Ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau
Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau Facts
The Ruins of St. Paul's (also known as Sam Ba Sing Tzik) stands adjacent to the famous Mount Fortress and Macau Museum. The front façade and the grand stone stairs are the only remains of the greatest church.
Chinese Name: 大三巴牌坊
Type: Historical Ruins; Relics
Address: Santo António, Macau, China
Best Seasons: Autumn
Recommended Visiting Hours: about 1-2 hours
Opening Hours: 9:00 - 18:00
Why is Ruins of St. Paul’s So Special?
- Today, the ruins of St. Paul’s are one of Macau’s best known landmarks and one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World.
- In 2005, they were officially listed as part of the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Brief Introduction of Ruins of St. Paul’s
The Ruins of St. Paul’s (also known as Sam Ba Sing Tzik) stands adjacent to the famous Mount Fortress and Macau Museum. The front façade and the grand stone stairs are the only remains of the greatest church.
The façade of the Ruins of St. Paul s measures 23 metres across and 25.5 metres high and is divided into five levels. Following the classical concept of divine ascension, the orders on the façade on each horizontal level evolve from Ionic, Corinthian and Composite, from the base upward. The upper levels gradually narrow into a triangular pediment at the top, which symbolizes the ultimate state of divine ascension – the Holy Spirit.
History of Ruins of St. Paul’s
The church was built in 1602 adjoining the Jesuit College of St. Paul that was the first Western college in the Far East. Missionaries such as Matteo Ricci and Adam Schall studied Chinese at the university before serving at the Ming Court in Beijing as astronomers and mathematicians.
The church was made of wood, and it was brilliantly decorated and furnished. The facade of carved stone was built in 1620-27 by Japanese Christian craftsmen who were refugees after the religion was wiped out in Japan. It was built under the direction of Italian Jesuit Carlo Spinola.
The Jesuits were then expelled, and the college was used as an army barracks. In 1835, a fire destroyed the college and the body of the church. The surviving facade rises in 4 colonnaded tiers, and is covered with carvings and statues that illustrate the early days of the Catholic Church in Asia.
Architecture Features of Ruins of St. Paul’s
Built with granites, Ruins of St. Paul’s has a baroque facade rich in ornamentation but with classic oriental characteristics. From the bottom up, the structure has five tiers. The first tier is comprised of ten Ionic columns with three entrances. The entrance in the middle has ‘MATER DEI’ carved into it. The two entrances on each side are decorated with bas-reliefs in the pattern of ‘HIS’. The second tier features ten Corinthian columns with three windows. A Catholic saint is enshrined in each of four tabernacles between columns. The two tiers as a whole is said to represent the Society of Jesus and the activities of missionaries.
The facade seemed about to topple, but it was girded with steel, and at the back side of the ruins, a museum was built in 1995. There is a crypt that has the remains of Japanese and Vietnamese martyrs, and there is a museum of sacred art with paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects. The facade is 27 meters tall, 23.5 meters wide and 2.7 meters thick. The top floor is a triangle lintel under a cross; in the middle of the lintel is a copper dove. The dove is surrounded by the sun, moon, and stars.
The remaining three tiers are the most decorated. The statue of Madonna stands in the middle of the third tier, while the statue of Jesus stands on the fourth. The walls are covered with bas-reliefs in various patterns like devils, angels, symbols of crucifixion, a Portuguese sailing ship, etc. The triangular combination of the upper three tiers reflects the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary. A cross stands at the coping of the wall.
Best Seasons to Visit Macau
The best time to visit Macau is the autumn season started from October to December, this period boasts most fine days without rain and typhoon.
- Spring in Macau (March – May) is a typical oceanic monsoon climate with mild March, Rainy April and humid May. It rains a lot, making May the wettest month of the year. The changeable weather in spring will cause few sunny days while few rainy days later. Umbrella is necessary in this seaon. Clothes to pack – A light sweater and a light coat are generally enough, but if it gets hot you’ll need summer clothing such as a T-shirt.
- Summer in Macau (June – August) is generally high temperature, humid climate with summer showers, typhoons and thunderstorms occasionally.
Clothes to pack – cummer clothes such as T-Shirts and shorts.Swimming in the sea and have a leisure day on the beaches can be recommended activities in Macau.
Autumn in Macau (September – December) is the best time to travel to Macau. Bright sky and cool temperature with rare typhoon weather makes tourists have a joyful Macau tour in this period.Clothes to pack – besides summer clothes such as T-Shirt and shorts a sweater for evenings is needed especially towards the end of the autumn.
- Winter in Macau (Jan to February) is not a harsh cold season. Snow is unheard of in Macau and frost occurs only one once or twice a year.December is a peak travel time for Macau, and the 20th is an important day for people from Macau to return to the motherland. Many celebrations and activities fill this day. December is also a Christmas period so you also can get touch with the festival atmosphere there.
Clothes to pack – Sweaters, a light jacket or coat for evenings. Gloves and scarves are only needed by those particularly susceptible to the cold.
How to get to The Ruins of St. Paul’s
Travel with ChinaDragonTours (top recommended)
If you want to get out of the traffic and hassle of navigation, you can book a private tour package that includes visiting, dining and transfer from us. Our local guide and driver will escort you to Ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau in the fastest and most convenient way and take care of all the details. You just have to focus on the visiting.
Take bus 8A, 18A, 18B, 18, 19 or 26 to Camoes Square.
Useful Travel Tips
- Shopping Around
It is said that Macau can enjoy the best shopping fun in the Asia Pacific region, because the goods here are not only various, but also cheaper than some neighboring regions. Jewelry, Chinese antiques, porcelain, electronic products and other goods are very affordable, you can buy some back.
Many local cake shops sell a variety of delicious sweets and cakes.The most famous and special pastries are Almond Cake, Omelet, Sweetheart Cake, Portuguese Egg Tart, most coffee shops and bakery have.
- The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt was built at the bottom of the ruins in 1996 and houses many religious artefacts including Sino-Portuguese crucifixes, as well as a 17th-century painting of St. Michael the Archangel – the only surviving work from the original college. Admission to the museum is free every day between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm.