Macau is a history buff’s dream with many ruins and still occupied buildings from the Portuguese occupation of the city state dating from around the mid 16th century, found in the historic heart of the city. The Guia Fortress, a complex comprising of a Portuguese military fort, a lighthouse and a chapel is one such set of Portuguese era monuments. The chapel and the fort were constructed between 1622 and 1638 and the lighthouse came up between 1864 and 65, the first western style lighthouse in the region. 91 meters high, the lamp installed in the circular observation platform on top is said to be visible for 20 miles out at sea under reasonable weather conditions. Constructed on the highest point in the city state, Guia Hill, the complex is named after it. Nearby is a storm warning post where signal flags were hoisted to warn of approaching typhoons. Storm warnings had also been issued from the bell tower of the chapel. Part of the historic centre of Macau, the Guia Fortress complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The chapel, Capela de Nossa Senhora de Guia was established by Clarist nuns and houses a statue of the Virgin Mary along with some pictures. Frescos with western and Chinese themes were discovered in 1998 during conservation work. The exterior of the building is simple with a triangular pediment on pilasters painted yellow that contrasts with the simple white painted building giving it a Mediterranean touch. The thick walls support a vaulted ceiling and the roof has traditional red tiles.
The fort played an important part in defending the city against a Dutch invasion in 1622. It covers an area of 800 sq meters. The most important service provided by the fort was in serving as an observation post being at the highest point in Macau. It originally contained barracks, a water cistern, ammunition and equipment stores, and the commander’s house.
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