'The Historic Center of Macau' is the product of over 400 years of cultural exchange between the western world and Chinese civilization. The architectural heritage, predominantly European in nature, stands in the midst of traditional Chinese architecture in the historic settlement, providing contrast. It is the oldest, the most complete and consolidated array of European architectural legacy standing intact on Chinese territory.
The settlement of Macau by Portuguese navigators, in the mid-16th century laid the basis for nearly five centuries of uninterrupted contact between East and West. The origins of Macau's development into an international trading port make it the single most consistent example of cultural interchange between Europe and Asia.'The Historic Center of Macau' coincides with the heart of the western settlement area, also known as the 'Christian City' in history.
The emergence of Macau with its dual function as a gateway into China, and as China's window onto the world, reflected a relaxation of certain restrictions combined with a degree of open-mindedness that offered a creative way to supplement China's vassal-state trading system and marked a turning point in the history of both China and Europe.
People of different nationalities came, bringing their own cultural traditions and professions, permeating the life of the city as can been seen in both intangible and tangible influences. Since the mid-16th century, Macau has developed a visible dual culture which continues even now, and this cultural accommodation is seen in the city's history, administrative structures, as well as in physical features like architecture, gardens and public spaces.
'The Historic Center of Macau' is a living representation of the city's historic settlement, encompassing architectural legacies interwoven in the midst of the original urban fabric that includes streetscapes and piazzas, such as Barra Square, Lilau Square, St. Augustine's Square, Senado Square, Cathedral Square, St. Dominic's Square, Company of Jesus Square and Camoes Square.
These major urban squares and streetscapes provide the linkage for a succession of over 20 monuments, including A-Ma Temple, Moorish Barracks, Mandarin's House, St. Lawrence's Church, St. Joseph's Seminary and Church, Dom Pedro V Theatre, Sir Robert Ho Tung Library, St. Augustine's Church, 'Leal Senado' Building, Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple, Holy House of Mercy, Cathedral, Lou Kau Mansion, St. Dominic's Church, Ruins of St. Paul's, Na Tcha Temple, Section of the Old City Walls, Mount Fortress, St. Anthony's Church, Casa Garden, the Protestant Cemetery and Guia Fortress (including Guia Chapel and Lighthouse).
On July 15, 2005, the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List as a cultural property at the 29th session of the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.