Thursday, November 7, 2013

Places of Worship

Macau is not a very big territory, and almost all of it is dense, urban development. It's just over 29 square km (about 11 square miles) and it packs a lot of interesting buildings in a small, walkable space. There are signs in Portuguese, Chinese and English to guide you around. Pipkin and Domo decided to just wander the streets and see where it took them. There is a lot to take in without following a herd of tourists. Pipkin and Domo happened upon this lovely alleyway with only a couple tourists taking photos - a rare treat to find such solitude in the most densely populated region in the world!

The Portuguese colonized Macau in the 1500s and Macau remained under Portuguese authority until 1999. As a result, a lot of the buildings in Macau have a European influence. There are colourful exteriors, shutters on the windows and cobblestone walkways. This alleyway led up to the facade of what remains of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Before they visited the ruins of St. Paul's, they visited this small, humble Buddhist temple behind St. Paul's. This is Na Tcha Temple, built in homage to Na Tcha, a teen folk hero who saved his village and is worshipped as a god of protection. Currently the temple is under repair, but behind the metal fencing the temple is not much bigger than what you see. A long time ago, this temple would have been dwarfed by the adjacent Catholic church.

A peaceful spot in front of Na Tcha Temple, behind St. Paul's Cathedral. Grand Lisboa faces off in the background.
To this day, St. Paul's ruins overshadows this little temple. The Buddhists didn't build this temple in 1888 to compete with the Catholics, rather its existence next to the church reflected Macau's harmonious community relations and multicultural identity. Today, this photo reveals three different types of worship - Buddhism, Catholicism, and Capitalism!

The ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral is a much bigger tourist draw, and it's one of Macau's most famous landmarks. Built from 1582-1602, all that remains after a fire during a typhoon in 1835 is the stone facade and the crypts. The stone facade was carved by Japanese Christians who were exiled from their homeland. Its details include carvings of Jesuit images with Asian themes, like Christians trampling over dragons.

Heading down the 66 steps from the Cathedral Pipkin and Domo were drawn into the packed streets of central Macau...where they went in search of Portuguese Egg Tarts!

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