Historic Center of Macao
The Historic Center of Macao was formed in the mid-16th century when the Portuguese began to settle and trade in the southwest area of the Macao Peninsula. Macao subsequently developed into a main port in China open to the outside world before the 19th century. It was also an important international port in Asia.
Having grown prosperous through international trading, Macao attracted more settlers from countries around the world. These people brought their different cultures, their social customs, and their religions to this area and built houses, churches, streets, fort and even a cemetery. This area is the core part of what is now called the Historic Center of Macao.
At the same time, the settlers introduced to their own countries the cultures, religions and social customs of the Chinese people. Macao was a window by which foreign countries got to know about China.
Throughout these 400 years, Macao has been an exchange hub between cultures of the West and the East. In the Historic Center of Macao, one can find the oldest and the best-preserved western-style buildings in China, in different architectural styles that emerged after the Renaissance, from Baroque to neo-classical.
One can also find that the numerous western religious buildings exhibit various features of different religions. The architects of these western-style buildings absorbed the cultures of India and China and added their characteristics into their buildings; even the murals in the Guia Chapel were painted in Chinese style.
The Chinese temples and residential buildings make the architectural style of this Historic Center of Macao very diverse. Even today people in this area hold their national beliefs and habits. They stage various celebrations to continue their different traditions and the combination of Chinese and Western cultures and elements.
The Historic Center of Macao mainly has Portuguese non-religious architecture, some churches and some Chinese residential and religious buildings connected by streets and squares. There are the Moorish Barracks, the Dom Pedro V Theater, the Sir Robert Ho Tung Library, the Leal Senado Building, the Holy House of Mercy, the Section of the Old City Walls, the Mount Fortress, the Guia Fortress, the Guia Lighthouse and Lilau Square.
One can also find St. Laurence's Church, St. Joseph's Seminary Building and Church, St. Augustine's Church, the Cathedral Church, St. Dominic's Church, St. Paul's Ruins, St. Anthony's Church, the Protestant Cemetery and the Guia Chapel; the A-Ma Temple, Lou Kau Mansion, the Mandarin's House, Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple and N Tcha Temple.
The Historic Center of Macao is the quintessence of the Chinese and the Western cultural exchange of more than 400 years, and provides a particular proof of the exchange of cultural, architectural and religious influences between the East and the West. Its unique value was recognized by its inclusion in the list of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage in 2005.
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