San Ma Lo -- Heart of Town

2009-12-01 14:34 BJT

The official name is Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro but residents use the Chinese name San Ma Lo (New Street) for the narrow thoroughfare that stretches from the Avenida da Praia Grande to the Inner Harbour. In less than a mile the street offers a capsule commentary on Macanese life. At the beginning, note the mosaic-picture paving, potted plants and street lights in old lamplight style. On your left is the Bank of China branch...on your right the Banco Nacional Ultramarino (established 1902, Portugal's national overseas bank, with the original facade incorporated into a modern skyscraper)...Adjoining is a block of typical China Coast shop-houses (with ochre facades, stucco ornamentation and deep wrought-iron balconies), where people live on upper floors, above shops and offices...From here a steep stone staircase leads up to the Cathedral, matched on your left by the steep Rua Central...Next on the left are shops, including the modern Central Plaza mall and venerable Wing Tai, a leading antiques store...On your right is the Central Post Office (with a philately section of Macau's special editions)...where the clock tower has a carillon that plays different melodies at certain hours...Now you've reached the main square, Largo do Senado, with its Portuguese pavement of wave-patterned stones and globular fountain...Cross the road to look in the imposing neo-classical building, formerly the Leal Senado (containing an art gallery, courtyard garden and library)...Go back to the square to admire the baroque facade of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia (established 1568, the oldest European charity on China), pick up useful information at the Tourist Office, browse the side-street shopping stalls and visit St. Dominic's Church (built by Dominican friars in the 1590s, now beautifully restored, with a Museum of Sacred Art)...If you feel like having some refreshment, try the open-air cafe in the square or Portuguese restaurants in Rua de S. Domingos...Continue along San Ma Lo, where both sides of the street are lined with pharmacies, jewellery shops (24-carat gold is bargain priced here), banks, traditional Chinese pawnshops (designed like fortresses!) and clothing stores...On your right is the budget Hotel Central (opened in 1928 and once the gambling hub of Macau) and Rua dos Mercadores (which leads to Tercena and Camões Garden)...As you proceed, look up at the art deco facades on the left side of the street...Cross the street to take Travessa do Mastro...Ahead is Fat Siu Lau (opened in 1903, the oldest restaurant in town is famous for its roast pigeon)...Turn left onto Rua da Felicidade (the former red-light district now restored to its turn-of-the-century appearance with carved red lacquer facades and sun blinds)...This area is always bustling with shoppers, diners and strollers...Retrace your steps and follow Felicidade to the Inner Harbour waterfront...passing shops famous for their dried, salted fish, Macanese cookies and squares of beef and pork cooked on open braziers...Turn back onto San Ma Lo and take the right hand side of the street, to pass curio shops, the neighbourhood shops selling bargain-priced name-brand clothing.

San Ma Lo - by night

Much of the daytime activity of San Ma Lo continues well into the evening, with shops open and restaurants even busier for dinner...Before heading down the street make a detour along the old waterfront of Avenida da Praia Grande...on your right are imposing government offices...the most beautiful of them is nicely floodlit (built in 1849 and long the Government Palace, it now serves as headquarters of the Macau SAR)...on your left is a lake created from the bay, which contains a Cybernetic Fountain. Every evening there are fountain displays...Now head back to San Ma Lo with its lamplights and the Largo do Senado, which is brightly lit and packed with shoppers and groups of friends...Continue along the street and turn into the Felicidade district, which comes fully alive at night...with crowded, noisy restaurants, competing aromas from sidewalk kitchens, sounds of mahjong games and music spilling from open windows and people meeting for a relaxed stroll...Along this walk are plenty of restaurants when you get hungry.


Editor: Liu Anqi | Source: