St Paul's Ruins

Weather :

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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Features St Paul's Ruins

Before it was destroyed during the fires, St Paul's was a very beautiful church onlooking the city of Macao. The structure and designing have been interpreted to showcase a mix of east and west where both the Chinese and Japanese craftsmen and artisans worked together and were involved in the decoration of the 27 meters tall facade which although seems to topple but were girded with steel.

Perched on top of the facade is a dove encompassed by the engravings of the moon, sun and stars which are supposed to be a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Beneath it is a Jesus statue surrounded by implications of the crucifixion. The architecture has been made in a way to include various Chinese and Japanese representations in the form of lions, dragon, chrysanthemums, bronze statues and a Portuguese ship. A museum was also built behind the St Paul's Ruins in 1995. In today’s time, the facade serves the symbolical function of being the altar to the city of Macao. 

St Paul's Ruins
Steps leading to the ruins of St Paul (Source)

History of Ruins of St Paul's

Initially reconstructed from 1602 to 1640 after being caught in a fire in 1595, the Ruins of St Paul's was the brainchild of Jesuit Priests for the purpose of spreading Catholicism as a religion and culture among the people, to help the illiterate understand the spirit of saints and the passion of Jesus. At the time of its construction, it was the largest church in all of Asia and its location of being perched atop a hill was meant to signify the triumph of the Roman Catholic Church via the opulent and ornate design of the buildings. It included the St. Paul’s College and the church of St. Paul. What you see now in the remains is all that was left when the city experienced a typhoon and caught fire for the third time.

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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