The cable car ascended slowly above the treeline as a beautiful panoramic spread of Macau came into view. It was my first time to ride one and I was delighted and at the same time thrilled, nevermind if the inside was a bit hot and we bloggers were sweating inside.
Guia Hill is Macau’s highest point and it is the location of the Fortaleza da Guia (Guia fortress), chapel and a 19th century lighthouse. These were erected in the 17th century after a failed Netherlands seige. The area is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site under the Historic center of Macau that also includes Largo do Senado and the Mater Dei.
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 cable car only went halfway of the hill and one either has to drive his way to the top or, an even better alternative is to walk. A good exercise for the muscles and joints. It also gives you the chance to come in close to the windy, tree lined road and possibly interact with joggers, martial arts enthusiasts and those who are doing their exercise routine.
Just before the start of the fortress proper at the top, there’s a series of underground tunnels as bomb shelters that are accessible to visitors. These were military installations that were off limits before.
Other than the lighthouse, the simple chapel with a neoclassic facade (Capela de Nossa Senhora da Guia) beside it is quite interesting. It was built first as part of the fort and’ later, the present structure was constructed in 1637. Near the entrance is a stone block with inscriptions and dated 1720.
At the far end is an ornate retable that contains the image of the Virgin at its niche. But one thing that really astounds is the 17th century frescoes uncovered in 1996. Parts of the murals have interesting details that shows a blend of western and oriental touches including angels in oriental garb.
Guia Fortress is also a good vantage point to see Macau with its old and new structures. It’s also a place to be in touch of its rich history and looking at its promising future.