Macau Culture

Macau Culture introduces Macau Culture Tour information about History, Gambling Industry, Religion, Cuisine, Language, People, Architecture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Cantonese Opera, Literature, Music, Macau Folk Customs, Museums, Historical Sites, Intangible Cultural Heritages and Inheritors of Intangible Cultural Heritages.

History of Macau

In 1557, the Portuguese took over Macau, making it the first European colony in East Asia. Called "A Ma Gao" by the Chinese(in honor of the patron goddess of sailors, A-Ma), its name was adapted to "Macau" by the Portuguese. For more than a century the port thrived as the main intermediary in the trade between Asia and the rest of the world: ships from Italy, Portugal, and Spain came here to buy and sell Chinese silks and tea, Japanese crafts, Indian spices, African ivory, and Brazilian gold.

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Gambling  Industry in Macau

Macau is China’s answer to Las Vegas. But the former Portuguese colony has long surpassed the City of Lights as the world’s casino capital, with revenue from gambling receipts exceeding the entire state of Nevada back in 2010. As well as drawing in the punters, it has the glittering architecture to match. The story of Macau is one of globalisation and the rise of China. It is a globalization story because of the role played by foreign multinational casino companies. And it is a story of the rise of China because it has been the economic prosperity of its citizens that has allowed them in great numbers to travel, see the world, and gamble.

Casinos in Macau

Macau (also known as Macao) has long been Asia’s gaming capital. In the past, the casinos were all owned by billionaire Stanley Ho but in 2002 a new era of Macau began. The Chinese government stepped in and halted the monopoly and has since opened its doors to many new investors including foreigners who brought billion-dollar establishments to the island (Macau now has at least 34 casinos).

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Religion Culture in Macau


Islam in Macau is a minority religion in the region. Currently there are around more than 400 Muslims in Macau in which they call themselves as the Macau Islamic Society. According to the Islamic Union of Hong Kong, together with all of the foreign Muslim workers combined(such as from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Pakistan), Muslims in Macau accounted for more than 10,000 people. Macau currently has one mosque, which is the Macau Mosque, located at 4 Ramal Dos Moros in Our Lady of Fatima Parish. The mosque was built in the 1980s by the Muslim people from the second wave of generation during the Portuguese-ruled of Macau. This mosque is specially crowded during Sunday where most of the employees are having their work break days.

Taoist and Buddhism

Churches, cathedrals, and temples have always been a significant part of cultural heritage practically everywhere in the world. Thanks to Macau’s special status, the local spiritual landmarks are completely preserved. Macau has a wide range of ancient Chinese temples, spread right across the peninsula down through Taipa to the tip of Coloane. This list just shows the top temples you may want to consider visiting if you come to Macau.

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Portugal is a mainly Catholic country. Catholicism is the first introduction of western religion in Macau. In this small territory are located dozens of Catholic churches. It can be said that Macau is a city of churches. There is no doubt that the Catholic faith in Macau is the heritage of Portugal, as with the discoveries, comes to evangelization. Perhaps the last place you would expect to find beautiful European style churches is China. Colonized by the Portuguese, over 400 years ago, Catholicism was brought to Macau and many churches and convents built. Here are some of the classical churches in Macau.

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Macau Cuisine Culture

About 400 years, in Guangdong(Canton), appeared a group of foreigners, the Portuguese, whose arrival has changed unexpectedly the landscape of this small village, which was at the time almost unknown in China. Since then, he started his extraordinary story. Macau cuisine(Chinese: 澳門菜, Portuguese: culinária de Macau) consists of a mosaic of southern Chinese(especially Cantonese) and Portuguese cuisines, and fusion cusine with significant influences from Southeast Asia and the Lusohone world. Although many routinely consumed dishes in Macau belong to a subclass (Heungshan) of Cantonese cuisine, a reowned distinct cuisine called Macanese cuisine is unique to Macau. Many unique Macanese dishes resulted from the spice blends that the wives of Portuguese sailors used in an attempt to replicate European dishes. Besides local Chinese ingredients, ingredients and seasonings of Macanese dishes also include those from Europe, Latin America, Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Genuine Portuguese and Spanish cuisine can also be found in Macau.

Must-eat Dishes and Snacks in Macau

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Cantonese (85.7%) and Portuguese (0.6%) are the official languages of Macau. The city has its own dialect of Portuguese, known as Macanese Portuguese. Mandarin (3.2%) and English (1.5%) are other languages spoken in Macau, while 6.7% of the people speak other Chinese variants. Portuguese is an official language in Macau and is an indispensable aspect of Macao culture. The Macau government’s official documents are written in Portuguese and in any street, we can see signposts stuck, signs, billboards, etc. written in Portuguese.


The world’s most densely populated region, Macau is home to 20,497 people per square kilometre. The total population of Macau is 649,100. Chinese form 95% of the population, followed by Portuguese (2%) and Macanese (people with mixed Portuguese and Chinese heritage). The economy of Macau is based on tourism and the industry employs 14.6% of the workforce, while 10.3% work in the gambling industry. 30% of the population follows Chinese folk religions, 10% follow Buddhism or Taoism, 5% follow Christianity while the rest of the people do not have a religious affiliation. Compared to the people from Mainland China and Hong Kong, the residents of Macau lead an easy-going lifestyle. They are welcoming and hospitable towards outsiders.

Macau Architecture Culture

Macao is a mixed city of Portuguese and Chinese culture, also known as the first and last European colonies in Asia. It is located on the southeastern coast of China. Macau is the world's largest and unique city with spectacular natural landscapes. This is the perfect place to enjoy traditional Chinese culture and exotic Portuguese architecture. When the Portuguese officially remain in Macau, the transformation of the territory becomes something inevitable. The Portuguese, living in Macau, sought a quality and style of life like they had in Portugal. They tried to build a Portuguese world in that piece of land. Started with the construction of permanent buildings. The architecture in Macau is divided into two styles: Chinese and European.

Landmark Buildings in Macau

Macau has long been the city where East meets West-rendering it a place of great historical value. It was the first and last European colony in China and represents over 400 years of Chinese and Western cultural exchange. In 2005, the historic centre of Macao was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Traditional Chinese Medicine in Macau

If you are not from East Asia, you may find Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and therapies unbelievable or even a bit shocking to some extent. However, these traditional medicine practices have been around for centuries and are becoming very trendy around the globe. Different from Western medicine, TCM is based on balance, harmony, and energy and includes various forms of herbal medicine. Acupuncture (針灸), cupping therapy (拔罐), gua sha (刮痧), massage (推拿), exercise (氣功), and dietary therapy (食療) are also other parts that make up TCM. TCM has now evolved into a lifestyle and in modern China, it is an indispensable part of daily life for the Chinese. When Chinese people get sick, besides choosing western medicine, they might opt for TCM even if most TCM therapies take a longer time to heal compared to western medicine. Of course, it is very popular in Macau

Cantonese Opera

Yueju Opera - employing the Cantonese dialect as its medium of expression, and prevalent throughout Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong and Macao - dates back some 300 years. It is the most influential opera in Southern China, and was listed as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO in September 2009.  Now, you can watch classical Cantonese Opera live in Macau, there are a lot of plays for you to choose from and they run throughout the year!


The literature of Macanese (i.e. those with Portuguese descent) is a multi-dimensional art. Their literature appeared as early as the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, a group of well-known writers appeared:

  • Lonely Road(《孤獨之路》), Tancareira Bela(《美麗的蛋家女》), Tancareira Pensativa(《沉思的蛋家女》), CancāoDe Tancareira(《蛋家女之歌》)–Leanel Alves
  • Blessed garden, Macau(《澳門,受祝福的花園》)–Jose dos Santos Ferreira
  • The Gown(《長衫》)–Deolinda de Conceição
  • Love and Small Toes(《愛情與小脚趾》), The Bewitching Braid(《大辫子的誘惑》)–Henrique de Senna Fernandes
  • Four Seasons in One Day(《一日中的四季》)– Carlos Marreiros
  • Chinese Urheen(《中國二胡》)–Camilo Pessanha

Music of Macau

Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. It was formerly a colony of Portugal, which left a legacy of linguistic and other cultural elements. The music is called Macanese music, a mixture of Chinese and Portuguese music. This kind of hybrid music had its boom in early 20th century and the groups that used to perform it were called "Tunas". In Portugal, the "tuna" groups consisted of young men which would get together at universities and form estudiantina-like groups, but in Macau, this kind of musical group took a different orientation, blending it with Carnival ballroom celebrations and street festivities. The repertoire consisted of carnival marches, ballads, waltzes, Cantonese-inspired ballads, fados, polkas, etc.

Macau Folk Custom

A-Ma Festival

Date: April 17-19
Location: A-Ma Temple, Barra Square
A-Ma belief and customs is one of the intangible cultural heritage gems of the city. The century-old Festival honors A-Ma, the Goddess of Seafarers, through various thanksgiving rituals and performances originally performed on fishing vessels. On A-Ma’s birthday April 19, the community will hold festivities at Barra Square. From Lion Dance, traditional rituals and other activities as well on April 17. A Cantonese Opera performance will be held on April 17 and 18 at 7:30pm which highlights this event.


Date: December 25
Location: Macau
From 1557 until 1999 Macau was an overseas province of Portugal and this colonial heritage is still evident in the food available in the SAR. Thanks to its Portuguese heritage, much of architecture of the historic center of Macau retains a distinctly European flavor, and, at Christmas, this means beautiful decorations to get you into the festive mood. 

Macau Lotus Flower Festival

Date: Summer season yearly
Location: Macau
Do you know that the lotus flower is part of Macau’s identity? You can see it on the country’s flag. Besides that, the lotus flower is considered sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists worldwide. It signifies purity and enlightenment. Summer is the time for Macau Lotus Flower Festival and you will get to see different types of species in the city. The festival is to pay tribute to the variety and beauty of lotus flower around the city.

Good Friday(耶穌受難日)

Date: 2 days before Easter 
Location: Macau
Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, and Black Friday.

Buddha's Birthday

Date: April 8 of the lunar month
Location: Macau
Buddha's birthday is a Buddhist festival and holiday traditionally celebrated in most of East Asia to commemorate the birth of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later the Gautama Buddha and founder of Buddhism. It is also celebrated in South and Southeast Asia as Vesak which also acknowledges the enlightenment and death of the Buddha. According to the Theravada Tripitaka scriptures.

Historical Sites in Macau

Macau’s rich and diverse history has left it with a wealth of historic sites and buildings to explore. The most famous of these are concentrated in the Historic Center of Macau-a UNESCO World Heritage site. These are some of the top historical attractions you may want to consider when visiting Macau.

Museums in Macau

Given its rich history and cultural heritage, Macau is not surprising there a number of museums across Macau. They cover a wide variety of subjects, from local history to tea culture to motor racing. This list covers the top museums in Macau you may want to consider on your visit.

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Intangible Cultural Heritages and Inheritors in Macau

Macao, a city known for its cultural coexistence, is home to a variety of folk customs. Chinese and Western cultures have taken root and have been developing in this place for more than four centuries, nurturing the unique cultural landscape of Macao and its own precious intangible cultural heritage.

‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills – as well as the associated instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces – that are considered component parts of cultural heritage by communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities, groups and individuals in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity. Intangible cultural heritage, which includes oral traditions, performing arts, social and religious practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, as well as traditional craftsmanship.