Ruins of St Paul St Paul Church - 17th Century Historical Landmark in Macau Night View of St Paul's Ruins, Macau

St Paul's Ruins

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Timings : 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hrs

Entry Fee : No entry fee

Ruins of St Paul, Macau Overview

Standing adjacent to the famous Mount Fortress and Macao Museum, St Paul's Ruins are the ruins of a 17th-century Catholic church complex, in the form of a front granite facade and grand stone staircase of 68 steps. One of Macao’s most renowned landmarks, it is one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World.

Listed in 2005 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, St Paul's Ruins are rich in their history and symbolic features. The greatest church in Macau, it was burned down by a fire in 1835 leaving only the humongous front facade and stairway. A steel stairway leads to the top of the ruins, allowing tourists to have a close look at the intricate carvings and revel in the panoramic view. People traditionally throw coins into the top window of ruins for good luck.

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Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt

The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt is a restoration project undertaken by the Chinese Government at the heart of Ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau. The ‘Crypt’ part of the Museum houses the tomb of Father Alexander Valignano, founder of the St. Paul’s college - catholic institution located in the same complex as the church. There are relics of Japanese and Vietnamese martyrs as well. The museum of art is home several antique objects and paintings of historical significance, including the one of St. Archangel Michael which was the only piece of art to survive the devastating fire in 1835. 
Timings: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Closes at 2:00 PM on Tuesdays
Cost: Free

The Five Tiers of St Paul's Ruins

The five-tiered baroque facade of the Ruins of St. Paul’s is all that remains of the historic 17th-century Mater Dei Church. Composed of granite, each of these tiers represents something significant to the assimilation of Chinese and Catholic culture and heritage.
  • The first tier has ten Ionic columns and three entrances, that led into the church when it still stood before a destructive fire brought it down in 1835. The name ‘Mater Dei’ is carved on top of the middle entrance.
  • The second tier features three windows with Corinthian columns on either side of them. There are ten in total and houses four Catholic saints between them.
  • There is a statue of Madonna enshrined at the centre of the third tier, and a statue of Jesus above her in the fourth. Both these tiers are decorated with numerous Catholic motifs, such as angels, demons and symbols of crucifixion, as well as bas-relief designs of several Chinese inscriptions.
  • The fifth and the topmost tier bears the cross. The triangle formed by the top three tiers is said to represent the Holy Trinity of Christianity. 
St Paul's Ruins
Steps leading to the ruins of St Paul (Source)

Monte Fort

Lying to the east of the St. Paul’s ruins, the Monte Fort is the oldest fort in Macau which was intended to defend the St. Paul’s Church from the plunders of pirates. It later became a military fort having 4 cannons, which though function-less now, still stand. It is shaped like a 4 sided structure (quadrilateral) with a circumference of about 100 meters and is surrounded by bastions.

This fort contained part of main buildings such as storehouses, barracks, and cisterns. During the fire that wreaked havoc on St Paul's Ruins, the building of the fort was also destroyed. However, the fort area is still famous among tourists and natives alike because it is a great vantage point to view the serenity and vista of the city as well as the charming landscapes beyond the fort region.

How to Reach St Paul's Ruins in Macau

The easiest method to reach the Ruins of St Paul's is to hop on any of the public buses- 8A, 18A, 18B, 18, 19 and 26 to reach the Cameos Square from where one can walk to the ruins. 

Another convenient but more pricey option would be to hail a cab from anywhere in the city and ask to be dropped off at the St. Paul’s Ruins.

Need to Know

  • The roads to this attraction make for a beautiful pathway, so prefer walking till here to enjoy the scenic views. 
  • If opting to walk, make sure to wear comfortable and durable walking shoes.
  • Try out the 'egg tart' available here at the many bakeries nearby.

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