The first Portuguese set foot on Chinese soil in 1513, having heard of the 'Empire of the Chins' from their trading outposts in India and Malacca. An official trading arrangement was drawn up in the 1550s, and the Portuguese opted to settle on the peninsula which had frequently offered them safe anchorage, with inner and outer harbours and sheltered islands to the south. A rental arrangement was agreed upon, and in return the Portuguese promised to rid the area of marauding pirates.
Macau is a city with two faces: the fortresses, churches and food of former colonial masters Portugal speak to a uniquely Mediterranean style on the China coast. And yet Macau is also the self-styled Las Vegas of the East. The last few years have seen once-sleepy little Macau booming.
16 Nov 1999 - Macau, ChinaAs part of a day trip from hectic Hong Kong, Macau offered a slightly less busy and slower pace of life to what I had become accustomed to. I wandered the streets almost believing that I was back in the Mediterranean instead of thousands of miles away in Asia. Dumpling stalls soon dispelled that feeling and at only 30p a dumpling I was soon gathering up them up.
I visited the ruins of a great church but more importantly filled my face in a cheap restaurant. Unlike the Chinese in the restaurants I had four bowls of rice with my meal of a plate of vegetables and separate plate of King Prawns - and these were not small plates of food either. Great value, great taste and great quantity - elements of a holiday that always cheer me up.
Macau - Walking around Macau
Walking through some of the streets of Macau can give the impression of being back in Mediterranean Europe.
Macau - Dad and sister
Macau - Leal Senado
Macau peninsula's focal point is the arcaded Largo do Senado (Senate Square), traced with the territory's characteristically swirl-patterned cobble-paving and lined with fine colonial buildings. The clean, neo-classical lines of the Leal Senado (senate building) fill the square's southern side. Inside are the panelled Senate Chamber, 16th-century library and interior courtyard decorated with classic Portuguese azulejo tiling.