Macau’s most famous landmark is only a shadow of its former self. During a typhoon in 1835, St. Paul’s Church caught fire and burned to the ground, leaving only its now-famous stone facade and sweeping staircase still standing.
Crowning the crest of a hill, next to Monte Fortress with its Macao Museum, St. Paul’s Church was constructed from 1602 to 1640, built to designs by an Italian Jesuit and erected with the help of Japanese Christians, who had fled their native country after Christianity was outlawed by the shogunate government. Its magnificent facade is like a textbook of Asian Christianity at the time, with a curious mix of statues and carved images, including a Portuguese ship, a skeleton, and a Virgin Mary flanked by both a peony (representative of China) and a chrysanthemum (representative of Japan).
Beyond the facade and excavated ruins is the crypt, containing bones of 17th-century Japanese and Vietnamese Christian martyrs and Father Allesandro Valignano, founder of St. Paul’s Church, and the Museum of Sacred Art, with religious works of art produced in Macau from the 17th to 20th centuries.
Next to the ruins is Na Tcha Temple and a remnant of Macau’s old city walls, which, together with the Ruins of St. Paul’s, are part of the Historic Centre of Macau.
Bus: 3, 4, 6A, 8A, 18A, 19, 26A, 33 (but you’re best off walking from Senado Square)