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Macau beyond the casino includes ruined churches and echoes of colonial Portugal

Early morning in Macau’s Camoes Park, and Lisbon seems a long way away. This leafy space may be named after the Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes, but the group of elderly Chinese ladies practising the ancient martial art Tai Chi gives the scene a Far Eastern feel.

This peaceful city centre space was originally used only by the Portuguese community – Macau was a colony until 1999. After being handed back to the state next door, everyone co-exists happily.

The result is a blend of Oriental and European cultures. The ruined of 17th century St Paul’s Church – destroyed by fire in 1835 – is close to Chinese temples. Its restored facade includes dragons and saints.

More than a Chinese satellite: Intriguing Macau is a heady mixture of European and Cantonese cultures

You can dine on Cantonese dumplings or Portuguese cod balls and gaze at the historic centre of Macau, a Unesco world heritage site, which ranks as the finest example of European architecture on Chinese soil.

There is far more to do than its most gaudy tourist industry, gambling, would suggest, though a stroll through any hotel is accompanied by the ker-ching of slot machines – locals call them ‘hungry tigers’…

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