Historic Centre of Macau

The Historic Centre of Macao (Portuguese: Centro Histórico de Macau, Chinese: 澳門歷史城區) is a collection of over twenty locations that witness the unique assimilation and co-existence of Chinese and Portuguese cultures in Macau, a former Portuguese colony. It represents the architectural legacies of the city's cultural heritage, including monuments such as urban squares, streetscapes, churches and temples.

In 2005 the Historic Centre of Macau was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, making it the 31st designated World Heritage Site in China. It was described by UNESCO as: "with its historic street, residential, religious and public Portuguese and Chinese buildings, the historic centre of Macao provides a unique testimony to the meeting of aesthetic, cultural, architectural and technological influences from East and West," and "...it bears witness to one of the earliest and longest-lasting encounters between China and the West, based on the vibrancy of international trade."[1]

Guia Lighthouse (Zone 2)

List of sites

The Historic Centre of Macao[2] is made up of two separated core zones in city centre on the Macau peninsula. Each core zone is surrounded by a buffer zone.[3]

Zone 1

The narrow-stripped Zone 1 is located between Mount Hill and Barra Hill.[4]


Name Location Notes References Photo
A-Ma Temple Barra Square

22°11′10″N 113°31′52″E / 22.186111°N 113.531139°E / 22.186111; 113.531139 (A-Ma Temple)

Built in 1488, the temple is dedicated to Matsu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. The name Macau is thought to be derived from the name of the temple.
Moorish Barracks
Mandarin's House
St Lawrence's Church
St. Joseph's Seminary and Church
Dom Pedro V Theatre St. Augustine's Square
Sir Robert Ho Tung Library St. Augustine's Square
St. Augustine's Church 3 St. Augustine's Square
Leal Senado Building Senado Square
Sam Kai Vui Kun
(Kuan Tai Temple)
10 Rua Sul do Mercado de São Domingos
Holy House of Mercy Senado Square
Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady
Lou Kau Mansion
St. Dominic's Church St. Dominic's Square
Ruins of St. Paul's
Na Tcha Temple
Section of the Old City Walls
Monte Forte
St. Anthony's Church
Casa Garden
Old Protestant Cemetery and the old headquarters of the British East India Company[3]


Name Location Notes References Photo
Barra Square

Largo do Pagode da Barra

Lilau Square

Largo do Lilau

St. Augustine's Square

Largo de Santo Agostinho

Senado Square

Largo do Senado

St. Dominic's Square

Largo do São Domingos

Cathedral Square

Largo da Sé

Company of Jesus Square

Largo da Companhia de Jesus

The square in front of the Ruins of St. Paul's.
Camoes Square

Praça de Luís de Camões

Zone 2

The Zone is surrounded by a buffer zone that covers a park and immediate urban area.[3]


Most of the items (buildings) are owned by the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) and managed by various departments or authority. Cultural Affairs Bureau of the SAR Government manages the Mandarin's House, the Ruins of St. Paul's, the Section of the Old Wall, Mount Fortress and Guia Fortress (includes the Lighthouse and Chapel).

Leal Senado Building is managed by the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) while the two government-owned temples, A-Ma Temple and Na Tcha Temple are managed by the Board of A-Ma Temple Charity Association and management board of Na Tcha Temple respectively. The Moorish Barracks is managed by the Marine and Water Bureau.[5]

The rest of the items are owned and managed by the respective institutions. St. Joseph's Seminary Building and Church is owned by St. Joseph's Seminary and managed by the Catholic Diocese of Macao. The Holy House of Mercy Building is owned and managed by Holy House of Mercy Charitable Foundation. Dom Pedro V Theatre is owned and managed by the management board of Dom Pedro V Theatre.[5]

The nominated buildings of the Historic Centre are protected by various laws, including the Basic Law of the Macao SAR.[3]


Constructions on the foothill of Guia Hill in 2017.
The view of Guia Fortress is blocked by the headquarter.

In 2007, local residents of Macao wrote a letter to UNESCO complaining about construction projects around the World Heritage Site Guia Lighthouse (Focal height 108 meters), including the headquarter of the Macau Liaison Office (91 meters). UNESCO then issued a warning to the Macau government, which led former Chief Executive Edmund Ho to sign a notice regulating height restrictions on buildings around the site.[6]

In 2015, the New Macau Association submitted a report to UNESCO claiming that the government had failed to protect Macao's cultural heritage against threats by urban development projects. One of the main examples of the report is that the headquarters of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao Special Administrative Region, which is located on the Guia foothill and obstructs the view of the Guia Fortress (one of the world heritages symbols of Macao). One year later, Roni Amelan, a spokesman from UNESCO Press service, said that the UNESCO has asked China for information and is still waiting for a reply.[7][6]

In 2016, the Macau government approved an 81-meter construction limit for the residential project, which reportedly goes against the city's regulations on the height of buildings around the World Heritage Site Guia Lighthouse.[6]

Professor at Stanford University Dr. Ming K.Chan (Chinese: 陳明銶) and professor at University of Macau Dr. Eilo Yu (Chinese: 余永逸) commented the Guia Lighthouse case proved that the Macao government had ignored the conservation of heritage in urban planning.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Historic Centre of Macau. UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  2. ^ "Historic buildings". Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "Advisory Body Evaluation (of Historic Centre of Macao)" (PDF). UNESCO. 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  4. ^ The Map, Historic Centre of Macao
  5. ^ a b "Nomination file submitted to UNESCO" (PDF). UNESCO. 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-03.
  6. ^ a b c "New Macau alerts UN to construction project near lighthouse". Macau Daily Times. November 8, 2016.
  7. ^ Meneses, J. (2016). The Victory of Heritage. Macau Business, July 2016, pp.72-73.
  8. ^ YU, Eilo W.Y.; CHAN, Ming K. (2014). China's Macao Transformed: Challenge and Development in the 21st Century. City University of HK Press. p. 316. ISBN 978-9629372071.

External links

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