It is also called Ruins of the Church of St. Paul. The ruins are the most famous historical site in Macau.
Originally built in 17th century by the Jesuits, the cathedral was one of the largest Catholic churches in Asia at the time, and the royalty of Europe vied with each other to bestow upon the cathedral the best gifts. The Portuguese cathedral was dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle. It was destroyed by fire during a typhoon in 1835 and what remains until today is the facade and stairways of the Church & St Paul’s college. This facade, the remains of the church, became a famous tourist spot and identity for Macau.
Resisting calls for the dangerously leaning structure to be demolished, from 1990 to 1995 the ruins were excavated under the auspices of the Instituto Cultural de Macau to study its historic past. The crypt and the foundations were uncovered, revealing the architectural plan of the building. Numerous religious artifacts were also found together with the relics of the Japanese Christian martyrs and the monastic clergy, including the founder of the Jesuit College in Macau, Father Alessandro Valignano.
In 2005, the ruins are officially enlisted as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Historic Center of Macau.
The ruins were restored by the Macanese government into a museum (Museum of Sacred Art & Crypt), and the facade is now buttressed with concrete and steel in a way which preserves the aesthetic integrity of the facade. A steel stairway allows tourists to climb up to the top of the facade from the rear. When climbing up the ruins, there is good view of the city. It is customary to throw coins into the top window of the ruins from the stairs, for luck.
Around the Ruins of St. Paul’s, there are lots of shops; some of the stores selling snack and food streets. Macau is famous for the Portuguese Egg Tarts. Some of the snack sellers giving away sample of the snacks, such as beef jerky and cookies. Koi Kei bakery is one of the famous bakeries around in Macau and the bakery gives away generous free samples to try out.