Macau is particularly known as “the Vegas of the orient” and millions of travelers visit its grandiose casinos every year. It is, therefore, slightly odd to write about Macau as a “city of museums”, but while it is true that most of the city’s museums are not even as big as a single corner in The Louvre or The Metropolitan, some of them are very unique and worth visiting.
This article will take you through seven unique museums that you should try to visit, when in Macau.
1) The Macau Grand Prix Museum: Naturally, I should have started an article about “museums in Macau” with the Museum of Macau itself, however, I decided to start it with the Macau Grand Prix Museum, as this small and well presented museum appeals to almost everybody, including those who normally don’t find museums interesting…
Macau Grand Prix has been the city’s best known international event for more than fifty years now, and the “Guia Circuit” has gained a reputation as the world’s most demanding street track.
In the museum, you can see all these celebrated cars and bikes that actually made history on Macau Grand Prix, from real oldies to modern “road killers” that can speed as fast as an airplane… Expectedly, there is a lot of interesting info about the drivers who once ruled the circuit, including well known names like Ayrton Senna, Michael and Ralf Schumacher, and David Coulthard, among others.
The small Wine Museum, next door, is also worth visiting (Especially since you are there anyway). Macau has absolutely nothing to do with wine production, but it was colonized for hundreds of years by Portugal, which is a significant wine country. The museum takes the visitor through the history of wine production, techniques and technology, culture and even wine-related festivals and customs… As expected, there is a bit of wine tasting too.
2) The handover Gifts Museum of Macau is housed in an ultra modern building that stands exactly where the 1999 handover ceremony took place, and showcases all those gifts that were given to Macau and its people by the different councils of China. Each of the gifts is a true piece of art, unique to the region from where it came, and reflects the special skills of this region’s people.
3) Museum of Macau: Housed in what used to be Macau’s strongest fort, the Museum of Macau tells the fascinating story of this unique city, and while it might lack the impressive features that some “national museums” around the world have, it compensates for it with very interesting exhibits and a somewhat homey ambience that is so much what Macau is all about.
4) Macau Maritime Museum: There are definitely better maritime museums in the world than this one, but the one of Macau has a very nice collection of model replicas of Old Portuguese and Chinese vessels, that is worth seeing. The ancient navigation instrument they showcase is also interesting.
5) The Fire Services Museum of Macau (Museu dos Bombeiros): This tiny museum is housed in a historic 1920s building that once served as the headquarters of Macau Fire Services, and although you won’t need more than 15 – 20 minutes to cover it, vintage fire engines will always have their charm.
6) Taipa Houses Museum (Casas Museu da Taipa) comprises a row of five beautiful colonial manor houses, which used to accommodate well heeled Portuguese families back in the 1920s. Today, each of the houses displays another theme and among the five, The Macanese House is possibly the most interesting, as it gives a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a rich Macanese family at the beginning of the 20th century, including all the antique furniture, the utensils and the other bits and pieces.
7) Lin Zexu Memorial Museum is a very small museum, located in the north of Macau, near the Canidrome, and although it’s not really big or sophisticated, it is well worth visiting, especially if you like history, as it gives a glimpse to one of modern history’s most fascinating times.
The museum focuses on the story of Lin Zexu: A high-ranking official during the Qing Dynasty, who is mostly remembered for his stubborn struggle against opium smuggling by the British into Guangzhou, a struggle that has triggered the outbreak of the famous First Opium War, between 1839 and 1842.
To learn more about Macau, including tourist attractions, suggestions for sightseeing tours, recommended restaurants, hotels and shopping tips, visit the Macau Travel Guide at Metropolasia.com – The ultimate online-guide for travel, dining and lifestyle in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore.
Roni Shwartz is a certified travel consultant and an expert to the cities of Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. He writes for http://www.metropolasia.com/