In few places throughout Macau are the colonial influences of European rule more evident than at the historic Church of St. Dominic. Set at the back of a lively square this Baroque style church is instantly recognizable by its pastel-yellow and cream-colored façade. It’s more picturesque on the outside than lively on the inside, and in an artistic touch the front of the church features green shuttered windows which symmetrically flank the three-story bell tower.
Built in 1587 by three Dominican priests from Acapulco, Mexico, the original chapel was ultimately destroyed and replaced in the 17th century with the building which stands today. Notable for being the first place to print a Portuguese language newspaper on Chinese soil (A Abelha da China: The China Bee), the Church of St. Dominic is better known for a violent and tumultuous past.
In what was perhaps the most notorious event, a military officer in 1644 who supported the Spanish against Portugal was murdered at the altar of the church during a regular Mass. Similarly, in 1707, upon receiving orders calling for their excommunication, an order of Dominicans locked themselves inside of the church and bombarded soldiers with a hailstorm of stones during a three-day standoff.
With the occasional violence having subsided long ago, the church now houses a collection of paintings and religious artifacts which date to the 16th century and are collectively known as the “Treasury of Sacred Art.” A functioning place of worship for Macau’s sizeable Christian population, the Church of St. Dominic is included as one of the buildings listed as part of the UNESCO recognized Historic Centre of Macau.