The Most Beautiful Churches in Macau

Penha Church Macau - courtesy of MGTO (Macao Government Tourist Office)
Penha Church Macau - courtesy of MGTO (Macao Government Tourist Office)
Matthew Keegan

Perhaps the last place you would expect to find beautiful European style churches is China. Colonised by the Portuguese, over 400 years ago, Catholicism was brought to Macau and many churches and convents built. Here are some of our favourites.

Chapel of Our Lady of Penha

Originally built in 1622 by Portuguese sailors that had escaped capture during a Dutch invasion attempt in Macau, the entire structure has since been rebuilt and today the church is exceptionally beautiful. It is surrounded by trees and flowered paths and is a popular site for wedding photos and a frequent backdrop for local TV shows and movies. It’s located at the top of Penha Hill and also offers arguably the best view in Macau.

Chapel of Our Lady of Penha, Hilltop of Penha Hill, Macau +853 2857 2801

Penha Church Macau – courtesy of MGTO (Macao Government Tourist Office)

1. St. Dominic’s Church

Church, Museum

Located right in the heart of Macau’s city square, St. Dominic’s Church was constructed by three Spanish Dominican priests in 1587. It was refurbished in 1828 and was expanded to the size it is today. The bell tower was transformed into a museum, the Museum of Sacred Art, that features more than 300 artifacts. This church was placed on the World Heritage List in July 2005, and became the 31st world heritage site of China.

St. Dominic’s Church, Tv. de São Domingos & Largo de São Domingos, Macau +853 2836 7706

St. Dominic’s Church | © TravelingOtter / Flickr

2. Guia Chapel

Definitely one to include on your must visit list, this beautiful small chapel forms part of the Guia Fortress and stands next door to a lighthouse. The present chapel dates from 1637, containing the image of the Virgin and a fine old painting of St. John the Baptist. The murals in the chapel depict representations of both western and Chinese themes, a perfect example of Macau’s multicultural history. Located at the top of Guia Hill, it’s reachable by foot or cable car and offers some spectacular views looking out over the city.

Guia Chapel, Estrada do Engenheiro Trigo, Macau Guia Fortress +853 2859 5481

Forte da Guía, Macau | © Eduardo M. C. / Flickr

3. St. Francis Xavier Church

Church

3. St. Francis Xavier Church
© jaaronfarr / Flick
Built in 1928, this chapel is painted a brilliant yellow and white, and the baroque style facade follows the style of Macau’s major churches. The chapel contains some of the most sacred relics of Christian Asia, including the bone from the arm of St Francis Xavier, who did a lot of evangelical work in Asia in the 1500s. St Francis Xavier was well known for converting Japanese to Christianity and so many Japanese Christians visit the church today.

4. St. Lawrence’s Church

Church

4. St. Lawrence’s Church
© Azchael / Flick
Located on the southern coastline of Macau, it was built by the Jesuits in the mid-16th century and is one of the three oldest churches in Macau. It is thought, based on the Neo-classical architectural structure of the church, it was once considered the church of the affluent.

5. Ruins of St. Paul’s

Cathedral, Museum, Ruins

The facade of the Ruins of St. Pauls in Macau as the sun sets.
© Bernard Tey / Flickr

Arguably Macau’s most famous landmark, the Ruins of St. Paul’s is an iconic stone façade, the remains of what used to be the greatest of Macau’s churches, the complex of St. Paul’s College and the Cathedral of St. Paul, built in the 16th century, but burned down in 1835 leaving only its very large and beautiful façade. At the rear of the façade a staircase enables you to climb up to the windows to get a closer look at the stone carvings and to enjoy a panoramic view of the city below. The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt was built at the bottom of the ruins in 1996 and houses many religious artifacts.

Ruins of St. Paul’s, Calçada de S.Paulo / Rua de São Paul, Macau +853 6238 6441

Ruins of St. Paul’s Macau | © Bernard Tey / Flickr | © Bernard Tey / Flickr

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