A-Ma Temple

A-Ma Temple, also known as Barra Temple holds a special place in Macau's history. It is said that when the Portuguese settlers first arrived over 400 years ago, they landed near the temple. When they asked the locals the name of the area, the locals instead said the temple's name, Ma Kok, and from this the Portuguese took the name Macau.

Located on the southeast of the peninsula, it was constructed by fishermen in 1488 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). They built the temple in honour of the sea goddess Ma Zu, who is believed to protect the Macau fishermen from danger when out at sea. It is built in the traditional Buddhist architecture.

Four main halls make up the temple: Hongren Hall, Zhansuo Hall, Zhengjue Hall and Kun lam Hall. Hongren Hall has a statue of Ma Zu and is the oldest part of the complex. Kun Lam is the highest and is noted for its great views. A ship is carved on rock beside the entrance. There are lots of stone engravings throughout the temple including couplets at many of the entrances.

A-Ma Temple is still visited by many worshipers as well as visitors each day and it was added to the World Heritage List as part of Macau's Historic Center. The 23rd of March on the Chinese lunar calendar is believed to be Ma Zu's birthday and a festival is held on that day as well as on Chinese New Year.