- the oldest European outpost in in the East  -

Macau in the 60's and 70's was much more than just a side trip from her bigger "sister" Hong Kong.
Until recently, - 1999 -,  this tiny colony belonged to Portugal, who settled here way back in 1557, - stayed for almost 450 years -, and built a strong fortress on the highest point of the colony.
This created a unique blend of old Portugal and China,- and resulted some great contrasts between those two worlds,- and systems.
Where else in the world do you think you could you see big posters of the Pope, side by side of big pictures of Chairman Mao???
Well,- you certainly could in Macau,- and also you can enjoy Macau as a museum piece in its own right, with terraced houses, cobbled stone streets, old churches,- all with a distinct atmosphere, that several places bring memories of old Lisbon.

Today a lot of the old Macau has long gone, - classic buildings have disappeared, cobbled stone streets have been covered with asphalt and the unique maritime atmosphere and life with steam ferries to Hong Kong and lots of traditional chinese junks that you could find in Macau's Inner Harbour, - Porto Interior -, have all gone forever.

See following example, - a street view down along "Rua Central" at "Calcada do Teatro" in old Macau - - - -

Here a look down Rua Central in 1973
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

Rua Central
- and here the same view of Rua Central in 2011 -
(Photography: Google Earth)

See the difference???
My picture from 1973 shows a street that is actually "screaming" and "begging" to be explored, - while the 2011 "Google" picture scares you away!

In addition to that, - when China under Chairman Mao was still a completely closed land for tourists -, Macau was by far the best place to have a glimpse of China.
In Hong Kong there was a place at the border to China, - Lok Ma Chau -, where tourists by the thousands were taken to have a look at the closed and mysterious "forbidden land".
This was one of the usual tourist traps, because there was actually nothing to see from the hill at Lok Ma Chau.
All farm houses and villages and all people had been removed from the border area, and the only thing you could see behind the fence was a stretch of completely empty land.
Not so in Macau.  Here across the waters of the old inner harbour, - Porto Interior -,  China watchers could have a much better glimpse of "the forbidden land", - China -, with villages, farmers, rice fields and fishermen.
The only thing that indicated that something was terribly wrong, was the ever present Chinese gun boats that never left the Chinese side of Macau's Inner Harbour, - and to the keen observer, it could not be unnoticed, that the whole stretch of coast and land between Macau and China was studded with pillboxes.
No one could unnoticed slip across the narrow stretch of water between China and the freedom in Macau.
But from the Macau side of the old inner harbour, foreigners could have a great look into China.

Of course you can still look from Macau to China, but it is not exiting anymore, because the Chinese coast is now filled up with modern high rise apartment blocks and shopping areas without any rural feeling left, - and China is not a closed land anymore. You can just go there if you want.

The pictures in the following pages are restricted to two trips, - both taken in 1973 -, when Macau was a lot more unique and interesting to explore than today's Macau.

Please enjoy my images from old Macau!

Fortaleza da Guia, - the Guia Fort
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

Here, - on the highest point of the colony -, the Portuguese built the Guia Fort, - Fortaleza da Guia -, in 1638.  Also within the fort is the Guia lighthouse, - Farol da Guia -, and the Chapel of our lady of Guia.

Fortaleza do Monte, - the Monte Fort
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The oldest military building in Macau is the Monte Fort from 1616.  It also served as the residence of the commander of the colony.
In 1622 the fort had its moment of glory, when a Dutch fleet attacked Macau, and a canon ball fired from one of Monte forts canons hit the gunpowder magazine of one of the Dutch ships, - and blew it up -, which made the Dutch give up their plan, and sail away - - - -

Fortaleza do Monte, - the Monte Fort -, a closer view.
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The Chapel of St. Michael, - and it's cemetery.
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The Chapel of St. Michael is not very old, - built in 1875 -, but it has a unique setting, right in the middle of Macau's biggest Catholic cemetery.

Porto Interior, - Macau's old inner harbour with China in the background
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

A look at China across Porto Interior, - the well protected inner harbour
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

Take note of the three Chinese gun boats in the middle of the picture. To the very left in the picture, - just to the left of the tree at the coast -,  you can see one of the pillboxes placed along the coast.  Another pillbox can be seen below the trees, - just above the ramp leading into the water at the right side of the narrow inlet to the bay behind.

Porto Interior, - Macau's old inner harbour with China in the background
Lots of traditional Chinese junks, - and the old steam ferry to Hong Kong.
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The A-Ma temple, - Macau's oldest temple dating from 1488
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

This temple is famous, - has even been included on the list of World Heritage items -, and gave name to Macau.
The story goes, that when the Portuguese sailors first time set foot on the coast near the temple, they asked the locals about the name of the place.
They thought that the Portuguese referred to the temple, and answered that it was called the "Bay of A-ma", which in Chinese sounds like A-Ma-Gao, which in Portuguese ears sounded like Macau, - and their new colony was therefore named Macau.
A-Ma is the goddess for protection of sailors and fishermen, - and is the same which in other places in the Far East is referred to as Matsu, - or as in Hong Kong, - Tin Hau.

The A-Ma temple, - Macau's oldest temple dating from 1488
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The A-Ma temple, - Macau's oldest temple dating from 1488
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

Take note of the ship painted on the boulder to the right in the picture.
It is a peculiar mixture of a Chinese junk and a European style ship, with lookout platforms, - crows nests -,  in the masts.

The A-Ma temple, - Macau's oldest temple dating from 1488
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The A-Ma temple, - interior of Macau's oldest temple dating from 1488
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The A-Ma temple, - interior of Macau's oldest temple dating from 1488
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The A-Ma temple, - interior with a model of a Chinese junk
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

One of the extremely colourful old buildings near Porto Interior.
Guess that they once were used as harbour store houses for the early China traders.
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

A closer view of above building
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

Street view of old Macau
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The Kun Iam temple, - another well known temple in Macau
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

This temple is famous because in the temple garden, - after the Opium War ended -, an everlasting peace treaty was signed here in 1844 by representatives of China and USA. Unfortunately Chairman Mao forgot all about that!
The temple is from 1632, - and a most impressive example of a traditional Chinese temple - - - -

An interesting old wall painting of Chinese dragons at one of the walls of the Kun Iam Temple.
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

One of the colourful old cobbled stone streets of Macau.
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

- and another street with lots of old buildings still surviving in 1973
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

A closer view of the street shown on previous picture.
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

The old walls and guns of Fortaleza do Monte, - the Monte Fort
(Photography © Karsten Petersen)

  Click  HERE  for more images of MACAU - page 2


 UPDATED:   November 3. 2000, - July 2nd. 2003, - Nov. 25th. 2004, - March 12.2011