Uncover the enchanting tales of Macao’s past in Our Lady of Fatima Parish, which is one of eight intriguing self-guided walking trails in Macao. Download the Step Out Macao app and explore this culturally-diverse Macao neighbourhood with its engrossing East-meets-West history.
Macao has something for everyone. Whether you want to taste Macao’s unique food or see Macao’s lovely architecture, Macao will satisfy your appetite – both literally and figuratively.
Laneways, squares, buildings and restaurants will take you to Portugal, Mainland China and somewhere in between. But dig beneath the intoxicating tableaux of sights, sounds and smells by exploring the backstreets of Our Lady of Fatima Parish on foot and you will find a history that is packed with intrigue, mystery and even a gruesome underbelly that tells the unedited story of this relatively undiscovered land.
Our Lady of Fatima Parish
Arch of the Border Gate history
Our Lady of Fatima Parish is in the northern part of the Macao Peninsula and a great place to start a tour of this seemingly quaint neighbourhood is the Arch of the Border Gate.
Sharing a land border with Mainland China, this was the sole route between the two in days gone by.
In 1574, during the Ming Dynasty, a Chinese gate tower was built by the provincial administration, becoming an official checkpoint with soldiers restricting entry to China by Westerners.
Updated to a European-style border gate in 1871 (which unfortunately saw the Chinese gate tower demolished by the Portuguese army), this area is also the scene of one of the most gruesome incidents in Macao’s history.
Introducing Gov. Joao Maria Ferreira do Amaral
Gov. Joao Maria Ferreira do Amaral was the 79th governor of the Portuguese colony from April 1846 until August 1849. And by many (but not all) accounts, he was considered by many of the Chinese as a tyrant, thanks to policies designed to solidify Portugal’s colonial authority over Macao.
However, in 1849 it would seem that Amaral overstepped his authority when, among other things, he expelled Chinese customs officials from Macao. Incensed, the Chinese authorities put a bounty on Amaral’s head which proved to be irresistible for some and fatal for Amaral.
On August 22, 1849, Amaral was attacked at the border gate by Shen Zhiliang and seven other men. They knocked him off his horse and set about claiming their bounty by removing the governor’s head and his only remaining arm.
A statue was erected on Macau’s Praia Grande in remembrance of Amaral, but such was the governor’s legacy when Macau was returned to Chinese control, the statue was removed and sent back to Portugal where it still stands.
Lin Zexu Memorial Museum of Macau
With this gruesome incident behind you, continue walking south to Areia Preta Triangle Garden.
Popular with locals, who gather throughout the day to socialise, it is a good place to rest and people watch as life in Macao carries on in its own unique way.
Nearby is Avenida de Arthur Tamagnini Barbosa where you will find at least a dozen restaurants (and another dozen or more nearby) offering all kinds of local specialities.
Suitably satisfied, head to Lin Fong Temple. Right next to the park, this Buddhist temple dates back to 1592 and is the resting place for visiting Mandarins, the most famous of whom was Commissioner Lin Zexu.
Appointed to abolish the opium trade, Lin is particularly well known for confiscating and destroying 20,000 chests of opium in the region.
Lin was so revered that a permanent memorial – the Lin Zexu Memorial Museum of Macau – was built next to the temple. A visit gives more information about Lin’s life as well as a look at Macao’s more recent history.
A few minutes down the road is Ox Warehouse, a former cattle depot-turned art gallery. The warehouse is temporarily closed as it is currently undergoing renovations, but be sure to take a look as you walk by on your way to Kun Iam Ancient Temple and Temple of City God, which is a very short walk down Avenida do Cel. Mesquita.
Kun Iam Ancient Temple
Kun Iam Ancient Temple was originally built at the south of Mong Há Hill, but it was considered too small and so was rebuilt 1867.
Known in Macao as Little Kun Iam Temple (there is a larger temple called Kun Iam Tong in Coloane), it is one of the five temples built during the Ming Dynasty and, as the name suggests, honours Kun Iam, the Goddess of Mercy.
Next to Kun Iam Ancient Temple is the Temple of City God. Chenghuangshen, literally the God of the Moat and Walls, is said to protect the people within.
This is the only temple dedicated to the God in Macao and so is an important place for those who wish to safeguard Macao from harm.
Mong Ha Fort
One last stop in Our Lady of Fatima Parish brings us full circle and back to the unfortunate Governor Ferreira do Amaral.
Less than a 10-minute walk from Kun Iam Temple and strategically located on Mong Há Hill is Mong-Há Fort.
Founded by the aforementioned Governor Ferreira do Amaral (while he still had his head) to protect Macao’s northern sector against a possible Chinese invasion following the First Opium War between Britain and China, construction began in 1849 (a full seven years after the conclusion of that war and not finished until more than a decade later).
Today, the fort is a park (it was transformed in 1997 into Mong Há Hill Municipal Park) and the barracks are now the Institute for Tourism Studies (be sure to visit the IFT’s educational restaurant; it is very good).
With beautiful views, the park is a great place for a leisurely stroll around the old Fortress.
Planning a trip to Macao? Here are some resources to help you with your planning.
Macao things to do
Macao food and wine
Where to stay in Macao
Find out more about Macao on the Visit Macao website.