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A-Ma Temple

A-Ma Temple
Located in Southeast Macao, A-ma temple (mā gé miào 妈阁庙) is an excellent temple experience and a significant location for local and Chinese history. Tourists interested in history and local religious customs, this is a must stop. A-ma temple was formerly known as Motherly Matriarch Pavilion and was traditionally called Heavenly Matriarch Temple. A-Ma Temple, with a history of over 500 years, is the oldest temple among the three ancient temples in Macau. The other two are Kun lam Temple (guān yīn tang 观音堂) and Lin Fong Temple (lián fēng miào 莲峰庙).It was built during the Ming Dynasty to make sacrifices to the Motherly Matriarch.


Overview

A-Ma Temple, situated on the southwest tip of the Macau Peninsula (ào mén bàn dǎo 澳门半A-Ma Temple岛), is one of the oldest and most famous Taoist temples in Macau. Built in 1488, the temple is dedicated to Matsu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen.

The name Macau is thought to be derived from the name of the temple. It is said that when the Portuguese sailors landed at the coast just outside the temple and asked the name of the place, the natives replied “妈阁”. The Portuguese then named the peninsula “Macao”. The temple was well described in ancient Chinese texts, as well as represented in paintings, related to Macao. It is also one of the first scenes photographed in Macao.

In 2005, the temple became one of the designated sites of the Historic Centre of Macau enlisted on UNESCO World Heritage List.


History

The history of A-Ma Temple dates back to the early 16th century. According to the legend, A-Ma, an underprivileged girl who is looking for passage to Guangdong Province, was refused by rich junk owners. But a poor young fisherman took her on his boat. A squall blew up and wrecked all except the boat carrying the girl. After arriving in Macau Island, she went missing and reappeared as a goddess on the spot the fishermen built a temple.

A-Ma TempleThe pavilions of A-Ma Temple were built at different times, with its present scale acquired in 1828. The Hall of Benevolence is believed to be the earliest structure, dating back to 1488. The Prayer Hall or “The First Palace of the Holy Mountain” was built in 1605 and rebuilt in 1629; archaeological evidence of these dates was recovered on stone inscriptions at the pavilion. The date of construction for the Hall of Guanyin (guān yīn 观音) is unknown, but an inscription on a timber plaque at the entrance gives the date of a restoration conducted in the year 1828. Zhengjiao Chanlin was restored in the same year.


Formation

A-Ma Temple consists of the Gate Pavilion, the Memorial Arch, the Prayer Hall, the Hall of A-Ma TempleBenevolence, the Hall of Guanyin, and Zhengjiao Chanlin (a Buddhist pavilion), each forming a small part of the well-ordered complex which sits in perfect harmony with the natural environment.

This Chinese temple consists of a prayer halls, four pavilions and a courtyards connected by winding paths through moon gates and tiny gardens. At the entrance, there is a large rock on which is engraved a traditional sailing junk. On other rocks are carved red characters invoking the gods or repeating a prayer. This temple is famous for stunning tiled roofs and amazing views from the excellent gardens. To scare away evil spirits, people exploded firecrackers and performed Lion dances on weekends.

Guarded by a pair of stone lions, the Gate Pavilion is a granite structure measuring 4.5 meters wide. Ceramic animal decorations sit on exaggerated upturned roof ridges, forming a very distinctive profile. A succession of pavilions is aligned with the main gate, starting with the Memorial Arch, which leads to the Prayer Hall located in front of the Hall of Benevolence. The Prayer Hall dedicated to Tian Hou (Goddess of Seafarers) is a granite structure featuring lattice A-Ma Templewindows and upturned roof ridges. The Hall of Benevolence, also built in granite and brick, is much smaller in scale, incorporating the natural slope of the Barra Hill (mā zǔ shān 妈祖山) in its construction. Like the Prayer Hall, the roof is covered with green glazed tiles and decorative roof ridges. Further up on Barra Hill is the Hall of Guanyin, which is a plain brick structure, roofed in the yingshan (flush-gable) tradition. In comparison, the Zhengjiao Chanlin pavilion has more refined architectural details and is more impressive in scale. It consists of a shrine dedicated to Tian Hou (tiān hòu 天后) and a retreat area with roof fashioned in the yingshan style. The shrine is a four-beam structure housed within high gabled walls that were used to protect against the risk of fire. The front façade features a moon gate, elaborately trimmed in granite and is richly decorated with colorful wall sculptures as well as delicate ornaments under the eaves.

Location: Rua de Sao Tiago da Barra, in the Macau Special Administrative Region
Hours: 10:00-16:00(Monday-Friday); 10:00-13:00(Saturday, closed on Sunday)
Transportation: Take bus No. 10, 10A, 11, 18, 21, 21A, 1, 1A, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 26, 28B or 34
Admission: Free
Recommended Golden Season: Spring Festival and the lunar March 23


Relevant Scenic Spots

A Ma Cultural Village

A-Ma Cultural VillageA-Ma Cultural Village (mā zǔ wén huà cūn 妈祖文化村), Macau, China is the most attractive site for the pilgrims and tourists in Macau. Located at the heart of Coloane Island of Macao, this heritage village covers an area of 7,000 square meters. Looked down by the giant statue of goddess Tian Hou, A-Ma Cultural Village is regarded as a tourist Mecca ensuring your Macau tour full of culture, religion, folklore, and leisure-seeking.

A-Ma Cultural Village, Macau, China celebrates the legend of goddess A-Ma worshipped in about 2,500 A-Ma temples world over. Regarded as the home of sea-goddess, the village is modeled on the palace complex of the Qing Dynasty of China. The complex houses a bell A-Ma Cultural Villagetower, cask tower, carved marble altars, a dressing hall, a museum and colorful shops. These memorials magnetize numerous devotees and tourists, from the mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Fujian. Tourist on their Macau tour can shop folk handicrafts and souvenirs from stalls within the complex.

A-Ma Cultural Village is encircled by a beautiful park. The road to the village passes through the Recreational Fishing Zone and the Arboretum housing more than 100 species of exotic trees. This surrounding adds to the sacred and religious significance of the A-Ma Cultural Village.

Location: In Alto de Coloane, Coloane island, Macau
Tel: 00853-571999
Transportation: There is shuttle bus service between the Facade at Estrada de Seac Pai Van and Tin Hau Palace in every 30 minutes.
Opening Hours: 08:00-18:00
Admission Fee: Free

Last Updated on Friday, 27 July 2012 16:35
 

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