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Macau travel, trips, sightseeing, Taipa, Taipa Houses Museum

Taipa

Taipa Island: a glimpse of old Macau

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A bit of background about Taipa

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Positioned between Macau Peninsula

and Coloane Island, Taipa is the

territory's smallest island, with an

area of just slightly more than 6 km²

 

Three bridges connect Taipa to

peninsular Macau, 2.5 kilometres to the north.

 

To the south, Taipa is now connected to Coloane Island through the land reclamation project of Cotai and, to the west, a narrow strait separates the island from the city of Zhuhai, on the Chinese side of the border.  The Lotus Bridge, on Cotai,  connects Macau with the People's Republic of China.  On the western side, Taipa faces the South China sea, and the runway of the Macau International Airport actually forms a barrier between the island and the open sea.

 

Initially, Taipa consisted of two islands: Greater Taipa and Lesser Taipa, but land reclamation eventually turned them into one island.  Taipa's two hills, Taipa Grande (160 meters) and Taipa Pequena, mark the locations of those ancient islands.

 

Taipa was not a part of Portuguese Macau right from the beginning.  Small Chinese settlements started to sprung around the island during the Southern Song Dynasty, circa 1000 ad, and it was only in 1851 when the Portuguese occupied it.

 

The construction of the three bridges, during the last quarter of the 20th century, have resulted in massive development and the island's population increased from just a few thousands to almost 50,000.

 

Development projects included high rising apartment buildings and several luxury hotels, but even today, Taipa is much greener than Macau peninsula and far more peaceful.

 

An island which means "a lot" (of sticky rice)...

According to a local legend, the name Taipa came as a result of misunderstanding between early Portuguese settlers and local Chinese residents:  The newcomers asked the locals for the name of the place ("nome" in Portuguese), but the Chinese, who spoke no Portuguese, thought they were asking if they sold "sticky rice" (which is pronounced similar to nome in Cantonese) and answered "dai ba" (meaning "a lot"). The Portuguese, hearing the response, took this to be the name of the place...

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Taipa Village is the original village on Taipa Island and one of the only two remaining traditional communities in Macau.  It's a small cluster of narrow lanes and alleys, with old colonial houses along them, painted in hues of yellow, blue, and green.  Walking along the pedestrian-only alleys and peeping into the traditional shops feels like traveling back in time...

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The best place to start your Taipa Village stroll from is, probably, the bus terminus on Rua Correia da Silva, next to the small Tin Hau Temple.

 

Adjacent to the bus terminus and the temple, on Rua Correia da Silva, you will see The museum of Taipa and Coloane History, located in a charming 1920s Portuguese-colonial house that used to be the Island Council Building in colonial days.

 

The museum's eight galleries take the visitor through the history of Macau's two islands, Taipa and Coloane, from the early civilizations that existed here more than 5,000 years ago until present days.  Exhibits include archaeological findings from the excavations on Coloane Island, precious religious items, both western and eastern, old maps and charts and plenty of historical objects.

The museum open daily (except Monday), 10 am - 6 pm

Admission fees are MOP$ 5 for an adult and MOP$ 2 for a student. Kids (under 12) and elders (over 65) may enter free of charge.

For more details, including information on current events, visit their website.

 

A delicious tip from 'Metropolasia Man'...

Café Tai Lei Loi Kei, just around the corner from Tin Hau Temple and The Museum of Taipa and Coloane History (Opposite McDonalds) is one of the best places to try Pork chop bun in Macau... But the buns are available only from 3pm, so that is when you have to be there and queue...

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From the museum, walk a few steps down Rua Correia da Silva, turn left to Rua dos Negociantes (or to Travessa da Felicidade) and right to Rua dos Mercadores. From Rua dos Mercadores turn left to Travessa dos Mercadores and walk along it to its end. Than turn right to Rua de S. Joao and walk along it, via Largo das Virtudes and Largo Maia de Magalhães, all the way to the village's main street, Rua da Cunha.  On Rua de Cunha, as well as on the small streets around it, you will find a variety of small restaurants and eateries that serve all sorts of lovely foods... Portuguese, Macanese, Chinese... you name it.  The Chinese pastry shops around this area are also a must try...

 

For more information about Taipa's recommended restaurants, check our Macau Restaurant and Nightlife Guide

 

If you happen to visit Taipa Village over the weekend, don't miss the lovely weekend market on Rua de S. Joao and the nearby streets.

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Next to the village, you can visit the 1885 Our lady of Carmel Church and proceed to the nearby Taipa Houses Museum (Casas Museu da Taipa).

 

Located along a lovely esplanade (Avenida da Praia) at the foot of a forested hill, the museum consists of a line of five impressive colonial houses, built in the 1920s as the residence of wealthy Macanese families and senior colonial officials.  The pale green houses, featuring typical Macanese architectural characteristics of Portuguese matrix, became a museum in the late 1990s and each one of them features a different theme: The Macanese house is where you can see the lifestyle of a wealthy Macanese family at the beginning of the 20th century, with antique furniture and other paraphernalia... next in line is the House of the Islands, showcasing the historic development of the communities on Macau's islands, Taipa and Coloane.  House of Portugal regions is the third one, with a display of Portugal's different regions, including traditional costumes and other daily life objects.  The exhibition gallery, located within the fourth house, is hosting various temporary exhibitions and the House of Reception, within the last house on the row, serves as a venue for government receptions and for cultural events.

The museum open daily (except Monday), 10 am - 6 pm

For more details, including information on current events, visit their website.

 

Getting to Taipa Village and the Taipa Houses Museum is easy: Just look at our Macau Bus Guide for the exact details.

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A minute from the houses museum, on Rua Fernão Mendes Pinto, you can visit  Sam Po Temple. This small Chinese temple was built in 1843 and is dedicated to Sam Po, who is said to be the third sister of Goddess Tin Hau (Goddess of Heaven). According to legend, Sam Po helped a group of locals to fight against pirates.

 

The magnificent Flower City Garden (Jardim Cidade das Flores) is just a short walk from the temple, on Rua de Evora. The small garden features some beautiful lotus-filled pools, winding bridges and Chinese pavilions.

 

On the other side of Taipa village, behind the stadium and near the car park of Macau Jockey Club, is the golden statue of the Four faces Buddha, seating inside a Thai style pavilion and surrounded with sculptures of Thai elephants.

 

From the Four faces Buddha, you can catch bus route No. 35 to Pou Tai Un Monastery and Temple: built in the 19th century on the lower slope of Taipa Pequena hill, this is one of Macau's most beautiful temples and while it might not be as old as the famous temples on the peninsula, it is definitely very rich in ornaments, statues and pieces of art.

 

The monks who live here operate a vegetarian café where you can enjoy a good meal in a nice environment and at a fairly reasonable price.

(Take a look at our Macau Bus-Routes Guide to see how you can get to Pou Tai Un Temple from every point across Taipa Island)

 

From the monastery, proceed with Avenida de Kwong Tung all the way to its end, next to New Century Hotel & Casino. Cross the roundabout and walk towards the university. Near the University of Macau, on the slope of the hill facing the canal and Macau peninsula, there is a tiny Chinese temple dedicated to the goddess of mercy, Kun Iam. The temple is built on top of a rocky cave and the surrounding area is very beautiful, with lovely views of the canal and a rocky garden.

 

Back to the roundabout (positioned between New Century and Crown hotels),  you can finish your sightseeing tour here and go somewhere else or you can go for a nature walk on one of Taipa's two hills...

 

The Taipa Pequena Trail can be accessed from Estrada Lou Lim Ieoc, just behind the Regency Hotel.  As you climb the hill, you will see the Taipa sculpture complex, a series of beautiful reliefs on a zigzagged wall, telling the stories of Macau day-to-day life.  The sculptures were created by Portuguese artist Dorita Castel-Branco, who was inspired by The great wall of China.  The sculpture complex is also one of the best view points around the hill.

 

The Taipa Grande Trail can be accessed via Estrada da Ponta da Cabrita (opposite the entrance to Macau International Airport, behind Hotel Golden crown China). The long staircase climbs all the way to Taipa's highest point from where you can enjoy lovely panoramic views (the view points along the path are also excellent).

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