A Photographer’s Guide to Macau: The City’s Best Angles

Gran Lisboa Casino, Macau, China
Gran Lisboa Casino, Macau, China | © Stephane ROUSSEL / Alamy Stock Photo
Matthew Keegan

Macau, the small autonomous territory on China’s southern coast, is a model city for photographers. A well-preserved mix of East meets West, old meets new, light and shade – here are just a few of the city’s best angles.

It’s little wonder that Macau was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005. A former Portuguese colony for more than 400 years, the unique assimilation of Chinese and European influences have shaped the city unlike any other.

Fortunately, Macau’s one-of-a-kind heritage has been well preserved. Take a stroll along the city’s cobblestone lanes and you’ll find beautiful Catholic churches that neighbour ancient Chinese temples. Meanwhile, extravagant casinos stand next door to ordinary apartment blocks. It’s these striking contrasts that make Macau a picture-perfect place to shoot.

East meets West

An attractive mix of East-meets-West architecture defines the Historic Centre of Macau.

Ruins of St. Paul’s

Macau’s best known landmark is the Ruins of St. Paul’s. It was constructed from 1602 to 1640 by Jesuit priests who travelled to the Far East to spread Catholicism. Acclaimed as “The Vatican of the Far East”, it was the largest church in Asia at the time. The original structure was made of wood, which burned down in a fire during a typhoon in 1835, leaving only the beautiful granite façade and a grand staircase of 68 stone steps leading up to it.

Rua da Felicidade – “Happiness Street” in English

Shedding its past as the heart of the city’s gaming industry and red light district, Rua da Felicidade, or “Happiness Street”, is now one of the most popular streets for discovering delicious local delicacies and souvenirs. In addition, small Chinese-style shuttered terraces, painted in red, make the street both a scenic and photogenic place to come for a stroll.

Earth God shrine

A Chinese Earth God shrine is tucked inside a corner pocket along Rua da Felicidade. Locals come to worship the Earth God and wish for good fortune.

St Dominic’s Church

Arguably Macau’s most beautiful church, St Dominic’s can be found in the heart of the city’s town square, “Senado Square”. Painted in a distinctive yellow shade, this stunning 16th-century Catholic church was originally built by Spanish Dominican priests in 1587. On the third floor of the church, there is a museum of ornaments that illustrate the history of the Roman Catholic Church in Asia.

Senado Square Macau

Senado Square” is surrounded by pastel-coloured Portuguese-style architecture with wavy black and white cobblestone paving. As well as being highly photogenic, it’s a great place to sit around the rim of the central fountain and watch the world go by.

Streets of colour

Travessa da Paixão

For a prime example of Macau’s colourful streets, be sure to visit Travessa da Paixão, which in Portuguese means “Love Lane”. Located just off from the Ruin’s of St Paul’s, this romantic little lane, no more than 50 metres (164 feet) long, is decorated with pink and yellow European-style buildings; it’s not hard to see why the camera loves it.

Tap Seac Gallery

St Lazarus District is home to some of Macau’s prettiest and most colourful streets providing ample photo-ops. Tap Seac Square and its distinctive red and yellow-coloured Tap Seac Gallery (Macau’s best public art gallery) is among the standouts.

Taipa Village

Taipa Village is Macau’s leading destination for culture and heritage. Here, among its winding lanes and pedestrianised alleys, you’ll find the best museums, art galleries, souvenir shops and street food in town. Photo-ops are aplenty, too, with Portuguese architecture and Mediterranean influences in abundance.

Night glow

Famous for its glittering gambling dens, Macau is home to some of the most extravagant casino buildings in the world. Beautifully over-the-top, they shine brightest at night when the city’s sky becomes illuminated with a neon glow.

Macau skyline

The Grand Lisboa (Macau’s tallest building) and its older neighbour Hotel Lisboa, light up the gaming strip.

Galaxy resort Macau

The palatial structure of Macau’s Galaxy resort is illuminated at night adding a colourful addition to the city’s famous Cotai gaming strip.

Cotai Strip

The moon disappears into the night sky as the bright lights of Macau’s Cotai Strip steal the show.

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