Macau’s Colonial Past and Towering Future – Macau (SAR), China

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After more than 400 years under Portuguese rule, Macau has preserved a unique identity – not quite Western, and not entirely Eastern. As a major trading port and Portugal’s only presence in China, Macau represents a cultural crossroads – the first baby steps in globalization. While we keep comparing Macau to Las Vegas, there is so much more to this place outside of the megacasinos.

As we’ve already mentioned, the city has some truly mouthwatering cuisine, incorporating elements from around the world – egg tarts, almond cookies, meat jerky, and african-inspired curry dishes to name just a few.

San Domingo's Market in Macau.San Domingo's Market in Macau.
San Domingo's Market in Macau.04-Jun-2012 13:16
 

In addition to the cuisine, there is also some grand colonial architecture, which has been well-preserved on the Peninsula.

The heart of the city is the Senate Square (Largo do Senado). Many of the surrounding buildings were used for administrative functions by the government during colonial times. These days, high-end western fashion chains and even a Starbucks can be found behind the pastel-colored arches of the surrounding shopping arcades.

Senate Square (Largo do Senado) forms the heart of the city.Senate Square (Largo do Senado) forms the heart of the city.
Senate Square (Largo do Senado) forms the heart of the city.04-Jun-2012 13:03
 

As one would expect of the Portuguese, you can also find a number of churches and cathedrals here. Some of them have survived the centuries relatively well.

St. Dominic's Church was built in 1587.St. Dominic's Church was built in 1587.
St. Dominic's Church was built in 1587.04-Jun-2012 13:09
 

But the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral stand as the city’s most prominent landmark. Following a fire in 1835, only the facade of the building still stands, at the top of a large staircase.

Only the facade of St. Paul's Cathedral remains.Only the facade of St. Paul's Cathedral remains.
Only the facade of St. Paul's Cathedral remains.04-Jun-2012 14:14
 

Tucked away in the back alleys, there are also smaller shops, cafes, and temples.

A Chinese temple tucked away in a back alley.A Chinese temple tucked away in a back alley.
A Chinese temple tucked away in a back alley.04-Jun-2012 13:15
 

It was a bit odd, walking around this city which is now predominantly Chinese, but surrounded by colonial Portuguese architecture.

A sign in Portuguese found at an old colonial fort.A sign in Portuguese found at an old colonial fort.
A sign in Portuguese found at an old colonial fort.04-Jun-2012 14:37
 

Signs and even modern-day newspapers are written in Portuguese.

Portuguese is still spoken in Macau.Portuguese is still spoken in Macau.
Portuguese is still spoken in Macau.04-Jun-2012 13:05
 

Since we had a clear day with nice weather, we headed over to the Macau Tower.

The 338 m (1,109 ft) Macau Tower.The 338 m (1,109 ft) Macau Tower.
The 338 m (1,109 ft) Macau Tower.04-Jun-2012 18:04
 

This 338 m (1,109 ft) tower is famous for hosting the world’s highest bungee jump. Unlike the piddly 43 m (141 ft) jump I did at the world’s first commercial bungee jump in Queenstown, New Zealand, this jump is more than five times higher – 233 m (764 ft). It looked absolutely terrifying.

The world's highest bungee jump - no thanks!The world's highest bungee jump - no thanks!
The world's highest bungee jump - no thanks!04-Jun-2012 16:18
 

AJ Hackett also offer a “Skywalk”, “Tower Climb”, and “Sky Jump” here. We skipped all of these and opted for the pretty view from the indoor observation deck.

SkyWalkers hanging off the edge.SkyWalkers hanging off the edge.
SkyWalkers hanging off the edge.04-Jun-2012 17:05
 

With the Asian portion of our trip coming to an end, we had one more spontaneous destination before returning home for the summer – Korea!

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