The A-Ma Temple is the oldest temple which is located in the southeast of the Macau Peninsul. It was constructed in the year of 1488 of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to commemorate Mazu, the sacred sea goddess who blesses the fishermen. It is said that the goddess was called Lin Mo, and that she was born in Putian City, Fujian Province, and was more intelligent than other children her age. She could predict good or ill luck and after her death she often helped merchants and fishermen ward off calamities and turn danger into safety. Now there are a number of folktales about the great goddess narrated in the littoral lands.
Approximately four hundred years ago the Portuguese landed on a sea promontory near a temple. They asked the local inhabitants the name of the land, but the locals misunderstood, thinking that the Portuguese were asking for the name of the temple. So they answered 'Ma Ge'. Later, the Portuguese translated the named into 'Macau' and used it to refer to the land. In actuality, this temple is one of the three famous Buddha halls in Macau- the A-Ma Temple.
The A-Ma Temple is a destination offering silence and spectacular views.A-Ma Temple already existed before the city of Macau came into being. It consists of the Gate Pavilion, the Memorial Arch, the Prayer Hall, the Hall of Benevolence, the Hall of Guanyin, and Zhengjiao Chanlin (a Buddhist pavilion). The variety of pavilions dedicated to the worship of different deities in a single complex make A-Ma Temple an exemplary representation of Chinese culture inspired by Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and multiple folk beliefs.
A-Ma Temple contains six main parts, all of which make up a series of classical Chinese architectural treasures, and this is all guarded by stone lions. Entering it and going across a gateway, you will reach the Hongren Hall by a winding path. A statue of Mazu is worshipped here, and it is believed that the hall has the longest history in the complex. Going ahead, the Hall of Avalokitesvara will present itself to visitors. It was constructed mainly using bricks and stone in a simple style. Compared with the other halls, the Zhengjiao Chanlin (a Buddhist hall) was designed tastefully both in regards to size and architectural style.
Containing not only an ancient architectural complex, the temple also possesses a measure of the rich and profound Chinese culture. It is worth your while to stay and enjoy the various poems and inscriptions carved on the stone along the cliff. Furthermore, each year, on the days of the birthday of Mazu and the Chinese New Year, many male and female disciples gather here. They burn lots of incense to pay homage and pray for good fortune.
Close to the world's tallest statue of the goddess A-Ma (also known as Tin Hau), which stands on a 170-metre high peak on a mountaintop on Macau's Coloane Island, a 7,000-square meter cultural complex celebrates the beloved deity's legend.
The development of the A-Ma Cultural Village was started during the Chung Yeung festival in 2001 shortly after the A-Ma Cultural and Tourism Festival of Macau. Today, construction of the Qing Dynasty-style complex is nearly finished. Surely the village, which comprises a bell tower, drum tower, carved marble altar in the Tin Hau Palace, a dressing hall, museum and shops will attract many A-Ma devotees and interested tourists, especially those from the Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Fujian Province, where the goddess A-Ma is believed to have been born more than 1,000 years ago. Visitors approach the village by six rows of stairs carved with auspicious Chinese patterns like of the roaring tiger, the double lion, the five cranes and double phoenix that lead to the Tin Hau Palace. Plans for the future include a vegetarian restaurant and more Macanese and Taiwanese snack stalls, folk handicrafts and souvenir shops and other tourist facilities.
But there is a lot more for tourists to see when they visit the Coloane site. The village is surrounded by a park, and is reached by the Estrada do Alto de Coloane which begins just south of Seac Pai Van Park. The road leads first to the parking area for the newly-developed Recreational Fishing Zone, the Arboretum (which features more than 100 species of local and exotic trees), and the main access to the Coloane Hiking Trail. It continues on to the top of the Peak where there is another car park, the new Alto de Coloane picnic area, and the statue of the Goddess A-Ma. Visible from far out in the South China Sea, the statue crowns Coloane Peak. A-Ma is venerated by fishermen and sailors and therefore has always had a special significance in Macau.
The goddess A-Ma has long been revered in Macau as the protector of people who make their living on the sea. A well-known local legend tells of the goddess saving the occupants of a ship during a fierce storm, and ascending afterward into heaven near the site of the historic A-Ma temple, a local landmark believed to have been built during the Ming Dynasty.
There are an estimated 200 million devotees of the goddess worldwide, concentrated in places like South East Asia, Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong but found even as far away as Europe and the Americas, making them followers of one of the world's most widespread religions.
Opening hours : 08:00 to 18:00 daily.
There is shuttle bus service between the Façade at Estrada de Seac Pai Van and Tin Hau Palace in every 30 minutes.