The Ruins of St. Paul’s refer to the façade of what was originally the Church of Mater Dei built in 1602-1640 and the ruins of St. Paul’s College, which stood adjacent to the Church, both destroyed by fire in 1835. As a whole, the old Church of Mater Dei, St. Paul’s College and Mount Fortress were all Jesuit constructions and formed what can be perceived as the Macao’s “acropolis”.
The façade of the Ruins of St. Paul’s measures 23 metres across and 25.5 metres high and is divided into five levels. The façade is mannerist in style carrying some distinctively oriental decorative motifs. The sculptured motifs of the façade include biblical images, mythological representations, Chinese characters, Japanese chrysanthemums, a Portuguese ship, several nautical motifs, Chinese lions, bronze statues with images of the founding Jesuit saints of the Company of Jesus and other elements that integrate influences from Europe, China and other parts of Asia, in an overall composition that reflects a fusion of world, regional and local influences.
Nowadays, the façade of the Ruins of St. Paul’s functions symbolically as an altar to the city. The baroque/mannerist design of this granite façade is unique in China (as noted in UNESCO’s Atlas mundial de la arquitectura barroca). The Ruins of St. Paul’s are one of the finest examples of Macao’s outstanding universal value.
Address: Company of Jesus Square
Opening hours: Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (except Tuesday afternoon), no admission after 5:30 p.m. (Tuesdays: closed after 2 p.m. Open as usual on public holidays.)
Bus routes nearby: 3, 3X, 4, 6A, 8A, 18A, 19, 26A, 33, N1A