Constructed between 1602 and 1640 by Jesuit priests who travelled to Far East with the motive of spreading Catholicism, the site originally included the St. Paul's College and the Church of St. Paul. Which is also referred as “Mater Dei”, a Portuguese church dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle.
The structure, located at the top of the hill, was the largest church in Asia at the time and was also acclaimed as “The Vatican of the Far East”.
The existence of the church was to reflect the triumph of the Roman Catholic Church through the ornate grandeur of the buildings.
The structure was made out of wood, and has survived three fires, leaving only the beautiful granite façade behind and an extravagant staircase of 68 stone steps leading up to it.
It is believed by many of the historians that the church was designed by an Italian Jesuit named Carlo Spinola. The church’s design is exquisite and one of a kind – like the city of Macau itself, it’s a mix of East and West. Chinese and Japanese artisans and craftsmen were involved in the decoration of the façade, which was built by Japanese Christians who were fleeing persecution at home.
The ruins of the façade after the fire were restored by the Macanese government into a museum, and today the façade is buttressed with concrete and steel in a way that preserves the aesthetic integrity of the façade.
A steel stairway allows tourists to climb up to the top of the façade from the rear to get a closer look at the stone carvings and to experience a panoramic view of the city below. It’s a tradition to throw coins into the top window of the ruins from the stairs, which is believed for good luck. In 2005, the ruins were officially listed as part of the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Timings are subject to change. You will be automatically booked into a time slot as part of the check out process. Please visit the official website to confirm the time slot before your visit.
1.You can visit The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt
The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt was built at the bottom of the Ruins of St. Paul's and is home to many religious artifacts and works, including Sino-Portuguese crucifixes, as well as a 17th century painting of St. Michael Archangel - the only surviving work from the original college.
2. It is believed that the Ruins have lots of carvings about stories in the Bible, so appreciating the building is like reading the Bible.
3. You can go to the back to see the tomb of the founder of St Paul’s College, Father Alexander Valignano, and the Catholic Art Museum. At the left front of the ruins there is a Chinese stone flag clip where flags granted to Jesuits by the Chinese empires as a prize or honor were once displayed. At the left back, there is a traditional Chinese Na Tcha Temple. These two constitute an interesting picture of Chinese and Western architecture, adding radiance and beauty to each other.