Macau’s Largo do Senado

The Santa Casa da Misericordia, one of the imposing buildings at Senado Square

Perhaps one of Macau’s iconic landmarks, the Largo de Senado or Senate Square is often depicted, along with Ruins of St. Paul, in countless photos and features. The area is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Centre of Macau, a narrow stretch of buildings and structures with unique architecture from the 15th – 19th centuries. Wow!

I was invited by the Macau Government Tourism Office-Philippines (MGTO) together with other travel writers and bloggers for a familiarization tour to this interesting place last May and it was a beautiful experience with its cuisine, glitz and old world charm. The traditional Portuguese pavement is familiar, wavy, two colored and stretching from one side of the square to the opposite end. Forward and back, whimsical and playful and at the same time, directing one’s vision to the imposing structures built along this historic square where Macau’s main road, the Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, passes. It still is a surprise being there.

The familiar wavy tiled mosaic, traditional Portuguese pavement, at the square is beautiful to look at

St. Dominic

Santa Casa da Misericordia, all white, neoclassical building, the Leal Senado, General Post Office, St. Dominic’s Church, all found in this small area. If not for the modern signages, still the old meets the new theme, McDonalds, Starbucks, Häagen-Dazs, and the camera toting and posing tourists, one could easily mistake of being transported back to times past. But really, I don’t like crowds too much especially if I want to photograph architecture and being at Largo do Senado is a bit of a problem.

To better enjoy this place though, either you can do two things: just gaze up and eliminate the visual clutter of people scattered in the square or just people go watching. You’ll be amazed at the quirkiness of tourists of different nationalities. Although walking around does provide a relaxing exercise, unless it rains or the pavement is wet which can be slippery.

At night, its a different matter. Everything is subdued, the buildings well lighted and not much tourists around except for the occasional Pinoys and other expats resting from the day’s work, or those looking for fun.

The area of St. Augustine Square

If crowds are not your thing and prefer a quite and contemplative moment, better head to the area where St. Augustine’s Church is. Following one of the narrow streets beside Leal Senado, up an incline, the familiar Portuguese wavy pavement tells that you’re already there. There are no crowds and you can just sit on of the cement benches under a huge tree or hear mass at the church where lots of Filipinos go to.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.


  1. lakwatsera de primera
    January 7, 2011 @ 8:52

    That’s a rare picture of St.Dominic with very few people in sight, this place was packed the last time we went here, the structures were also obstructed with banderitas and a giant Christmas tree.

  2. Marky
    January 7, 2011 @ 9:09

    I can spend the whole day walking around this place. I’ll try to budget in Macau for my 2011 travel wish list.

  3. estan
    January 7, 2011 @ 9:25

    @clair, i went back twice and waited patiently for the people to be gone. that was early in the morning 🙂

    @marky, its a beautiful place pero don’t know kung medyo expensive ba. hehehe

  4. Cedric
    January 7, 2011 @ 11:00

    Looks fun to just go people watching there. 🙂

  5. nina
    January 7, 2011 @ 23:25

    I remember when we went out walking at night after a very heavy dinner. Kaoko and I went to St. Paul’s ruin and it was heaven — nobody around!

  6. Tweets that mention » Macau’s Largo do Senado | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels --
    January 8, 2011 @ 15:35

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Estan Cabigas. Estan Cabigas said: Macau’s Largo do Senado: The Santa Casa da Misericordia, one of the imposing buildings at Senado Square … […]

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    January 11, 2011 @ 16:10

    […] just came from Largo do Senado, tracing a maze of streets where tourists of different nationalities were treading the portuguese […]

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    […] blend well. Other sites in the UNESCO World Heritage list includes includes such places as the Leal Senado, Mater Dei, Fortaleza da Guia, and A-ma […]

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  12. journeysandtravels
    August 4, 2011 @ 12:57

    ang ganda nung ambiance. I can come here in the morning and just stay here until mid-day and absorb the beauty of its existence. I am in awe!

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