toAre you in contact with Portugal in China? Travelers are often surprised by the Mediterranean feel of many places in Macau, especially its historic center, which earned a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, today’s Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic, located in the delta of the Pearl River, belonged to Portugal until the end of 1999 – two and a half years longer than that. Hong Kong He was British.
Macau is considered the last European colony in Asia. And it was also the first: the Portuguese landed on the island as early as 1513 and rented it from 1557. They traded silk and spices and established their own culture more than the British, building squares, places of worship and sending missionaries. Although more than 80 percent of the population is Buddhist, the Catholic Church maintains its influence in, for example, educational and social institutions, and the Good Friday parade is well attended.
Portuguese-era churches are as popular with visitors as ancient Chinese temples. The A-Ma Temple, to which Macau is said to owe its name, is considered the oldest. It is also located in the historical center of what, according to UNESCO, was “the longest encounter between West and West.” Chinese“extraordinarily”.
Accordingly, to date the official languages are Portuguese and Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese). Although Macau has expanded through land reclamation, its population density is one of the highest in the world, with 700,000 residents spread across 118 square kilometers.
Asia’s Las Vegas
Sparkling neon lights, jingling slot machines, spinning roulette balls, huge live shows: Macau “Vegas Asia”. The gambling oasis has already surpassed the US model. Even before the epidemic, casinos in Macau were generating seven times more revenue than those in Las Vegas. Visitors, especially from mainland China and Hong Kong, are the only part of China where gambling is not prohibited are flocking to Macau.
Gambling temples, with all their enormous size, are overwhelming even for non-gamblers. Approximately the largest casino in the world with over 800 gaming tables “Venice Macau”. Visitors stroll through a mock Venice, with a replica of St. Mark’s Square and replicas of Venetian gondolas on the canals.
Also peculiar are the casino hotels “London Macao”, with Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster and “The Parisian”, which seduces with its imitation of the Eiffel Tower, as well as a stylishly celebrated tea time. It lights up in color every 15 minutes at night.
Legacy of the Jesuits in Macau
St. The ruins of Paul’s Church are probably Macau’s most famous landmark. It is sold millions of times in souvenir shops as refrigerator magnets. The Catholic church was built between 1602 and 1640 and was built by the Portuguese Jesuits, which had previously been founded as the first western university in the Far East. It was part of Paul’s College.
A fire in 1835 destroyed the entire property except the church’s facade. Since Asian Christians also took part in the construction, it is possible to come across oriental motifs such as Chinese lions among religious figures, including Jesuit saints.
Visitors can climb a staircase to admire the facade and city views, and there is also a museum. The ruins have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the historical center since 2005.
The world’s oldest fusion cuisine
It is a delicate blend of Chinese and Portuguese dishes, laced with influences from other countries in Asia and Europe: Macau cuisine. Considered a national dish minchiMinced meat fried with onions and potatoes. Another specialization is Galinha and the AfricanGrilled chicken with spicy sauce.
Visitors should definitely try probably the most popular dessert: what do you say?, which means “Portuguese egg tart” in Cantonese. These filled puff pastry tarts are similar to Portuguese pastel de nata – Irresistibly delicious. With a history of over 400 years, this is true Macanese cuisine It is the oldest fusion cuisine in the world.
Excitement at Skywalk
Those who make the world’s highest bungee jump jump 233 meters down from the Macau Tower, a 338-meter-high television tower with a walkable outer ring at a height of 233 meters. In 2007 New Zealand extreme athlete Alan John Hackett broke the Guinness World Record for the highest commercial bungee jump there.
If you don’t have the courage to follow the same path, book a skywalk on the narrow 1.50 meter outer ring. However, it is not very suitable for those who are afraid of heights: There are no handrails, visitors are only fixed with ropes. The tower also includes a glazed panoramic platform and a revolving restaurant.
“The Sweet Language of Macau”
This is what local poets call the island’s mixed language, Patuá, referring to the “sweet tongue”; As Miguel de Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote,” said in Portuguese. Because the origin of Patuá, also called Macanese, is Portuguese. There are also some Cantonese, Malay, Indian, Japanese and other influences from the time of the seafaring colonial rulers. A vocal language emerged; For example, “Co fula mogarim” means “with the jasmine flower.”
UNESCO lists Macanese among endangered languages, but the language has been revived in recent years. One of the sponsors is Harald Brüning, a German, linguist and president of the newspaper “The Macau Post Daily”. There are short films about Patuá, as well as performances by the theater group Dóci Papiaçám di Macau (“Sweet Language of Macau”).
Weird, record-breaking, typical: find the rest of our regional studies series here.