If you love to pay a visit to temples in Macau, then come to A-Ma Temple which is the oldest and built in 1488. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a beautiful Taoist temple, nice decoration and well preserved. The temple was built by the local fishermen and dedicated to the goddess of Mazu, protector of fishermen for a safe harvest. The temple is facing the sea 400 years ago. Now it is facing some busy main road but you are still able to spot the sea when you climb up to the top.
Name of Macau
It is believed that the name of Macau is also coming for the goddess A-Ma. When the Portuguese landed on the sea 400 years ago, it was near this temple. When they asked the locals the name of the land, the locals thought the Portuguese wanted to find out the name of the temple so they answered “Ma Ge”, hence the name of Macau came about.
Giant Spiral Incense Coils
One of the characteristics of this temple is you notice very big coil of incense hanging all over the temple and these coils can burn for days. It also creates a good aroma too.
Mega Giant Incense Sticks
Some giant incense sticks can be seen burning in this temple.
Big Rocks at the top
A-Ma temple is built in a hill, so expect some climbing. When you reached the highest point, you will see a huge rock painted with red Chinese words. That is the end of the road as you cannot proceed any further.
A-Ma Temple has 6 main parts:
- Gate Pavilion
- The Memorial Arch
- The Prayer Hall
- The Hall of Benevolence which is also the oldest part of the temple
- The Hall of Guanyin
- Zhengjiau Chanlin – Buddhist Pavilion
A-Ma Temple featured in 10 Macanese Pataca ( Macau Currency)
A-Ma temple is so important that it is also featured on the Macau 10 dollar note.
Side note: If you are visiting Hong Kong and Macau, there is no need to change into Macau currency as you can also use the Hong Kong dollar in Macau.
Miniature Sailing Ship
Since A-Ma temple is built by the local fishermen for the Mazu, you will find many sailing related stuff in this temple. A miniature sailing ship can be spotted in the temple, look carefully at the ship and you are able to spot a pair of eyes drawn at the ship.
Bronze Bowl Magic
A huge crowd of visitors surrounding this magic bronze bowl. A guy is rubbing the handles of the bronze healing bowl filled with coins, hoping to see the water burst up – meaning good luck will be with you.
Some background of Goddess of Mazu
Goddess of Mazu is widely worshipped in the coastal regions of China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, and other South East Asian countries. It is especially popular in Taiwan as her temple festival is a major event with the largest celebrations.
Giant Mail Box Outside A-Ma Temple
Ma Kok – Original Name of Macau
You will notice the shops and building near A-Ma temple is named after Ma Kok, that’s the original name of this place.
The brightly colored rooster at the front of the shop, is called the Galo de Barcelos and is one of the national symbols of Portugal, can be seen here in Macau too:) I actually bought one of the mini roosters during my trip to Portugal, Lisbon a few months ago.
Koi Kei Bakery
There are many Koi Kei Bakery all over Macau and one can be found near A-Ma temple, just 1 min walk. You can get the Macau souvenirs here such as peanut brittles and almond biscuits and egg rolls. Or you can try their warm Portuguese egg tart here. It cost 20 HKD (USD 1.30) each
“Pastel de nata”
Macau was formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire so there are many Portuguese elements found in this country. One of them is “pasteis de nata” also known as Portuguese egg tart.
Guan Yin Statue
Not far from A-Ma temple there is the huge bronze Guan Yin Statue. The Guan Yin statue is located near the sea, along Ave Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. Quite isolated but can be seen from far. There is a lotus at the foot of the Guan Yin. It was sculptured by a famous Portuguese artist name Cristina Rocha, created in parts in Nanjing. If you look carefully at the face of the Guan-yin, you will see a blend of European and Eastern elements.
The sculpture of Kuan Yin in Macau is simple but elegant. Most importantly, this big Kuan Yin in Macau is built to bring peace, harmony, and prosperity to the people. Many believed that after the installation of the Guan Yin, the Macau economy improved.
Do include A-Ma temple and have a stroll around the surrounding of the temple. It is small but worth to pay a visit since the name of Macau (Ma Kok in Cantonese or MaGe in Mandarin) actually originated from this temple. Furthermore, this temple is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A good half an hour is perfect for the visit to A-Ma temple. By the way, it is only 10 mins drive from St Paul Ruins. You may want to take a taxi as it doesn’t cost much if you have a pax of 4. You can walk to the ruins of St Paul if the weather is cooling, takes about 30 mins by foot.