Arts and Culture in Macau

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Macau’s casinos may hog the spotlight, but if you need a break from the glitz and the glamour, you’ll find no shortage of cultural wonders in Macau. From ornate temples sparkling with gold to museums that bring this strategically significant peninsula’s past to life, you’ll feel like you’ve hit the jackpot as you dive a little deeper into Macau.




Whether it’s the hands-on science museum, the fast-paced Grand Prix Museum, or the high-seas of the Maritime Museum, Macau is full of stimulating exhibitions. Located in attractive colonial-era buildings and abandoned fortresses, they will take you on a visceral tour through the city’s history.


Macau Museum


Housed in a Jesuit fortress which once protected the city, Macau Museum now stands guard over the city’s cultural heritage. The museum takes visitors on a journey back to the time when Macau was a key location on Portuguese trading routes, and it tells stories of the marriage between these two civilisations - including exhibitions on the now critically endangered Macanese language, which is spoken by less than 100 people.


No. 112 Praceta do Museu de Macau, Macau. Tel:+853 2835 7911


Macau Museum website
Mandarin’s House


Let Mandarin’s House take you 150 years back in time, as you explore this living museum’s ornate woodwork, and peaceful gardens which offer an earthy, authentic contrast to the skyscrapers and casinos. Spread over 2 floors, the museum’s exhibits let you slip into the shoes of Macau’s wealthy merchants, before introducing you to the famous Chinese writer Zheng Guanying, who wrote his famous “Words of Warning in Times of Prosperity” here.


10 Travessa de Antonio da Silva, Macau. Tel:+853 2896 8820


Mandarin’s House website


Religious buildings


The ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral are the most striking example of European religious architecture in Macau, but that’s just one of many tranquil religious sites to explore. Escape the city, and admire the sweeping curves and chiselled charms of the roofs at Pou Tai Un, Kun Iam Tong, and A-Ma Temples.


A-Ma Temple


Go back beyond the Portuguese influence at the extraordinary A-Ma Temple, which dates to 1488 and is believed to have provided Macau with its name. Fittingly, considering Macau’s ocean-faring heritage, the temple is dedicated to the Taoist goddess Mazu, who is said to watch over the seas and fisherman. The heavy scent of thick incense and the sight of carved lion faces will welcome you up to this temple, where it’s hard not to be moved as you walk through the dark interior which flickers with candlelight.


Barra Square, Macau. Tel:+853 2831 5566


A-Ma Temple website




The Portuguese weren’t the only ones with their eyes on Macau, so they quickly constructed defences designed to watch over the seas, and protect this strategic position. These fortresses and their underground networks of tunnels have now been opened up to the public, so head up to enjoy sweeping views of the ocean, and to explore the cannon-studded defences.


Guia Fortress


Climb Macau’s highest hill, and you’ll find the Guia Fortress standing proudly at the top, looking down over the peninsula commandingly. Once you’ve got your breath back from the sharp climb, you’ll be welcomed by the squat cone of China’s first modern lighthouse, and get the chance to look around a whitewashed chapel, which protects weathered murals dating back 400 years.


Estr. Da Vitoria, Macau. Tel:+853 2859 5481


Guia Fortress website


Performing arts


In Macau’s larger hotels you can catch everything from ballet performances to rollicking children’s stage shows. Macau Cultural Centre, on the other hand, is the best place for smaller, more traditional performances - so take your seat to watch the very best local and touring Chinese talent.


Macau Cultural Centre


Watch the fountains spraying their mist into the air outside before heading into this epic venue. It hosts every kind of event across its 5 floors, where twinkling guitarists will move you with their melodies and performers put their acting to the test by battling it out for points. The Grand Auditorium is the showpiece venue, but you’ll be beguiled by listening to a traditional Chinese music recital as the sounds swirl around the intimate Small Auditorium.


Avenida Xian Xing Hai Nape, Macau. Tel:+853 8797 7301


Macau Cultural Centre website