I take every friend that comes to Macao to visit the old city proper,namely the Historic Center of Macao.This area,recently listed as a World Heritage site,displays the history of Macao,and every brick and stone embodies the many changes packed into a fairly short history.This is harmonious Macao,where Chinese and Western cultures have coexisted peacefully and given birth to a particular charming character,which is gentle,colorful,that puts visitors under its spell. Perhaps no other city in China gives one such a strong sense of harmonious combination of Chinese and Western cultures as Macao.
A combination of historical factors gradually turned Macao into a place where different cultures met and fused,and fostered its important role in the cultural coalescence between China and the West.That said,whilst praising this special cultural feature of Macao,let's not forget that this "cultural coalescence" was simply a byproduct of overseas expansion by Western nations.The decline of imperial China's status from being "the center of the world" to its sunset is clearly reflected in the mirror of Macao.
Strolling through the Historic Center of Macao is like crossing historical time and space.Stepping onto the Senate Square gives the feeling of walking over waves. Here, the paving stones,set out as waves,manifest the Portuguese fixation
with the sea;it was the sea that drew them east,to achieve glory and fulfill their dreams.The splendors of the past have vanished like smoke,only the metal globe of the earth still stands at the center of the square. St.Paul's College was the
first Western-style university of the Far East. "Men of outstanding wisdom," among them Matteo Ricci,Johann Adam Schall von Bell,and Ferdinand Verbiest,all set out from here to spread Christianity into China.
But they failed in their mission to convert all the subjects of the Son of Heaven into lambs of God. The facade of St Paul's stands alone above the stone steps against the open sky.The A-Ma Temple attracts great throngs of worshippers. Endless devout believers come to offer incense and to pray for blessings.The temple is said to be the earliest building in Macao. When the first Portuguese came onto land here, they asked the name of the whole place. Thinking the foreigners meant the temple, the locals replied "Ma Kok," (which is how A-Ma Temple is pronounced in Cantonese)and the Portuguese transliterated this into "Macau." Macao also has other names, such as Haojing, Haojiang and Jinghai;Jinghai(Mirror Sea)is the most pleasant sounding in Chinese, conveying poetry and peace.
Possibly there's nowhere in the world as packed with churches as Macao;classicist, baroque. gothic and other architectural styles are all represented. The fine colors and poetic feeling of the beautiful churches of St Augustine and St Lawrence accentuate the religious serenity and solemnity of these places of Macao's many churches, the Rosary Church, in Renaissance architectural style, stands out as the most elegant. Like the name itself, its creamy yellow walls, white cornices, green doors, windows and pediment exude the flavor and romance of southern Europe. From Penha Hill you can get a wonderful view of the sun, above a vast expanse of misty waters, slowly setting in the west and infinity of rosy clouds. You can lose yourself in the lush pinewoods of Guia Hill, listening to the wind and birdsong, imagining the mighty billows lashing at the shore below, and the first lighthouse in the South China Sea-a guide to vessels braving the wind and waves. Macao may be small but this means that wherever you look there is something to see, a few steps in any direction will take you back into history.
In the parks, full of green trees and beautiful flowers, unhurried old folks play chess or enjoy the singing of their caged thrushes; gales of laughter ring out from carefree children at play;with the air of one with foreknowledge of everything-a fortune-teller sitting by the park gate points out to young people how to avoid mishaps and get onto the right path. The vibrancy of life and the lonely world of death are sometimes just a step apart. The lush green grass of the Christian cemetery keeps watch over the repose of the departed. Just beyond its walls are homes restaurants and busy streets filled with the exuberance of lire.
Macao is such an enchanting place that visitors forget to return home, charmed as they are by the tolerance and humanity of its cultural diversity, the poetry conveyed by its leisurely and easy life style, the simplicity and peace hidden behind the bright lights. In Macao, without having to dash hither and thither, you can really appreciate feeling free and relaxed, and be touched by the warmth of human relations here.