Mandarin House’s interesting architecture

Detail of wooden divider in one of the rooms

I was in awe with its antiquity. The moon doors and gates, round portals and passageways that lead to different spaces in the abode. There are intricate woodworks and carvings, interesting tiles and gourd shaped windows that gives a peek to the sapling at the center of the courtyard. It is an intriguing and beautiful house.

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.

I’ve always been interested with architecture in colonized countries especially where there is a blend of styles, a testament to the blend of cultures. Like the Philippines, Macau has structures of note too that attests to the meeting of the east and west.

Courtyard with open and closed cloister

The Casa do Mandarim (the Mandarin House) at No. 10 Travessa de Antonio de Silva, an area of interesting residential houses and buildings, is a newly restored structure that primarily is a residential complex or family house. Built in 1869, it was the ancestral house of Zheng Guanying, a merchant, thinker and reformer whose writings, like his masterpiece, Words of Warning in Times of Prosperty have influential impacts on Sun Yat-Sen, Emperor Guangxu and even Mao Zedong.

The Mandarin House is essentially Guandong style, primarily shown by the recessed main entrance, attesting to the roots of Zheng. It has around 60 rooms, said to be rare in Macau, generally two stories but the backpart has three. Like many traditional structures in China and Hongkong, a series of moon gates, circular open portals, are present too. There are french windows and other western architectural details too.

The Sedan Way and building facades

It’s not actually the abode of a single family but of the siblings and descendants who have expanded it to its present state. Inside, there are interesting wookdwork details and partitions. One such part is the inner courtyard bordered by closed and open cloisters with gourd shaped windows.

When the Zheng family moved out in the 1950/60s, the complex was rented out to different families and over the years, suffered from neglect, deterioration and damage. Since 2002, when the government took over, the complex has undergone a series of restorations and now, this is a showcase of an important architectural gem.

Do something different and go on Crete holidays this time. Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece; while it retains its own local cultural traits such as their music.

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. gaye
    March 3, 2011 @ 19:37

    That courtyard looks like a perfect place to while away a hot afternoon. It’s good that the complex has undergone a series of restorations…

  2. Cedric
    March 3, 2011 @ 19:46

    Is this the building featured in History Channel? The place is charming, especially the paint that’s peeling off.

  3. estan
    March 3, 2011 @ 23:29

    @cedric, i haven’t watched that episode

  4. estan
    March 4, 2011 @ 6:51

    @gaye, it used to be rundown but the restoration was rather meticulous and they were able to sort of bring it back to its former glory 🙂

  5. » Old Macau structures at Lilau Square | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    April 13, 2011 @ 9:34

    […] significant as it was where the first Portuguese settlement was established. It is also where the Mandarin House, another notable structure, at Travessa de Antonio de Silva is found. But what really attracts me […]

  6. » The Wow Macau roundup! | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    May 11, 2011 @ 13:13

    […] Dei and the Fortaleza da Guia which are from the Portuguese colonial period, thus the occident. The Casa do Mandarim, at Lilau Square where there are interesting Portuguese style homes and A-ma Temple respresents the […]

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