former Portuguese enclave was initially established as a missionary trading
post in 1513 and thereafter became Asia's first European colony. In December
1999 it was reunited with China and, like Hong Kong, established as a
Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. Just an hour-long, 60km
(37 mile) boat ride from Hong Kong, Macau draws thousands of tourists
itself is tiny. It covers a mere 24 sq km, a figure that includes its
2 offshore islands Taipa and Coloane. Despite its small size, Macau has
a feel and flavor all its own. Over 400 years of Portuguese rule has endowed
it with a distinctly southern European feel. Macau's balmy climate, outdoor
cafes, Portuguese place names written on colorful tile squares, cathedrals
and public squares make it easy for visitors to forget they are in Asia.
boasts numerous historic buildings dating back to the beginning of its
colonial period. The most famous relic is the Ruins of St. Paul, once
dubbed the "greatest monument to Christianity in all the Eastern lands".
The grand church was destroyed by fire in 1835 and only the front facade
and a few blocks remain. The area under the site of the old church has
been transformed into the interesting Museum of Sacred Art. Many less
famous Baroque churches and pastel-colored mission houses bring charm
main attraction of Macau is its liberal gambling law. For many tourists,
Macau is regarded as a very large casino. The 4 story casino in the Hotel
Lisboa is the largest and flashiest casino in Macau and is often a part
of Hong Kong gangster movies. If the heady wheeling and dealing becomes
overwhelming, visitors can view the many priceless antiques and artifacts
dotted around the hotel, all of which have clearly written English descriptions.
Much of the money generated from this industry is being used to finance
large-scale construction, such as the new airport.
and Coloane are notable for their fine Portuguese restaurants, white sand
beaches and tranquil atmosphere. Excellent resorts make the islands a
tranquil and secluded getaway.