Landmarks of Macao: Ruins of St. Paul's
Updated 17:11, 10-Dec-2019
By She Jingwei

Known as the "Vegas of China", Macao, while brimming with luxury and world-class entertainment, also offers many landmarks that define the city's unique and fascinating history. The first episode of "Landmarks of Macao" takes you to arguably Macao's most famous landmark – the Ruins of St. Paul's, where both the city's Chinese tradition and the Portuguese culture have been greatly preserved.

No trip to Macao could be complete without visiting the Ruins of St. Paul's. First built in 1580, the Ruins of St. Paul's is the iconic site of Macao where visitors could admire the sculptures and engravings on the towering facade of a 17th century cathedral that stands at the top of a knoll.  

Originally made of wood, the structure was burned down in a fire during a typhoon in 1835, remaining only the beautiful granite facade and a grand stairs of 68 stone steps leading up to it. 

Ruins of St. Paul's in Macao, China. /VCG Photo

Ruins of St. Paul's in Macao, China. /VCG Photo

A steel stairway allows tourists to climb up to the top of the facade where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the whole city as well as the delicate stone carvings. When taking a closer look at the top of the facade, you could easily find a dove surrounded by stone carvings of the sun, moon and stars, which are a symbol of Holy Spirit. Mixed with European and Asian building styles, the ruins sculptures feature biblical images, Chinese characters, six Chinese lions, mythological representations, Japanese chrysanthemums and a Portuguese ship and bronze statues of Catholic saints.  

Additionally, the Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt, situated behind the Ruins of St. Paul's, contains polychrome carved wooden statues, silver chalices and oil paintings, attracting many tourists from home and abroad.

In 2005, the Ruins of St. Paul's was officially listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, the facade of the Ruins of St. Paul's functions symbolically as an altar to the city and the site is noted as one of the "eight new scenic spots" of Macao.

Travel information

Transportation: Visitors could take bus 8A, 18A, 18B, 18, 19 or 26 to Camoes Square, and then walk to the destination.

Opening hours for the Ruins of St. Paul's: all day 

Opening hours for the Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., no admission after 5:30 p.m. (closed on Tuesday afternoons, open on public holidays)

Recommended visiting hours: 2-3 hours

(Cover image designed by Du Chenxin and Li Jingjie)