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We walked from A-Ma Temple via Calçada da Barra and was looking for a way to get up to the Church of our lady of Penha  (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Penha, 澳門主教山小堂). And we wandered into Largo do Lilau (Lilau Square or 亞婆井前地) which is a part of the UNESCO recognized “Historic Centre of Macau”.

We really liked the ambience, perhaps we were thirsty and a bit tired, the square felt really relaxing in late afternoon. Quiet, slight breeze, diffused shadows, friendly storekeeper, canned iced coffee.  At first, the atmosphere felt a bit artificial as it seemed so perfect or staged.  But then some old ladies gathered around the fountain to chat, and a dog owner walked around with a watering can, pouring water at places where her dog pee’ed and at other corners where her dog did not.  What a neighborhood.

There used to be a spring here which was a main source of fresh water for early residents of  Macau.  I wonder if that little fountain above is a remnant of the water source.  This area corresponds to the first Portuguese residential quarters in Macau (1500’s).

On our way to Largo do Lilau, we passed the Moorish Barracks, now the Maritime Administration (Capitania do Portos) – built in 1874, this building was to accommodate an Indian regiment from Goa appointed to reinforce Macau’s police force.  There must have been lots of tourists wondering into it as they have a sign out front stating entry is for official business only.

This spiraling structure must be a recent addition.


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