When I started to think about the architectural landmarks to include in the list of places that should be visited in Macau by all the tourists, expats, and locals, a few popped immediately into my mind. In the end, I decided to start with Senado Building which belongs to Senado Square, undoubtedly the central core of Macau and the city’s heart and pulse.
The building was initially the home of the Macau Senate which was later called “Leal Senado” which translates to mean “the loyal senate”. Nowadays, it houses the Macau Municipal Affairs Bureau. It is more than 400 years old and has seen many changes throughout the years.
It all started in the 17th century and, from then on, we have nothing more than reports and a Chinese engraving included in a Macau monograph published in 1751. Those reports indicate that the building was mainly a brick and stone structure with a walled Chinese-styled courtyard, as also described in the Bureaus’ website.
Later, as reported in documents that are archived in the Senado’s literary estate, more precisely in 1783, a new renovation project for the building was submitted. It started in the following year and it also included an extension of the old building, all done in a baroque style, native to Italy in the 16th century and widespread in Portugal from the 17th to mid 18th century. Other reports from that time refer to a two-story building built in granite, bricks, and lime, with Chinese character engravings, and an 1830 painting from the well-known Englishman George Chinnery also helped to prove that the building looked very similar to the one we know now.
A second major renovation started at the end of the 19th century after a roof collapsed which had occurred sometime before. The neoclassic style was chosen again and it was used a few years after its major influence in Europe, most particularly in Portugal. We can distinguish it from the noble materials that were chosen (stone, granite, wood), the regular geometrical forms that were used, and its scale.
In 1940, the building witnessed its last major renovation. It was especially dedicated to the restoration of its condition, major works on the façade and the finishing of the interior work for the library, conference room, and chapel. Some of those interior areas are richly decorated and make the visit to the building even more interesting. Most of the Senado Building’s appearance is maintained from its old look until today, which grants it a prestigious place in the list of historical monuments of the Historical Centre of Macau and in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005.
The Senado Building is open every day from 9:00am to 9:00pm and the entrance is free.