Set in what used to be a bustling and crowded street in Macau’s city center, the former Chong Sai Pharmacy is–since 2016–a museum with lots of information, beautiful and interesting artifacts, and even archeological findings! Right at the start of Rua das Estalagens coming from Rua dos Mercadores, the museum is on your left-hand side and the entrance is made of two majestic automatic glass doors. Want to know more? Keep reading to find out all you can before heading there!
Established by Sun Yat-Sen–one of the most well-known doctors and medical researchers in Macau and China–during the end of the 19th century, the building’s design is still the same, excluding some conservation works. When it was first opened, it was one of the first places in Macau to deliver pharmaceutical and clinical services rooted in Western medicine and knowledge and run by a Chinese doctor. It was Sun Yat-Sen’s private practice where he offered free medical consults and affordable medication to the less fortunate. The former Chong Sai Pharmacy is now a monument part of Macau’s protected heritage.
However, it wasn’t always used for this purpose, having been rented out several times for different uses such as a Taoist worshipping venue, textiles business, a small shopping mall, and many others. The exhibition is also great to learn more about the very traditional “shophouse” building made in Lingnan style architecture, also known as “bamboo house”. Characterized by the extensive use of large areas like patio and halls as well as open-air zones, construction materials are usually specific for humid regions such as Macau. The abundant use of glassed windows and the patios allowed a lot of sunlight to get into the houses, making them warm and welcoming.
Born in Guangdong, less than 30km away from Macau, Sun Yat-Sen later got a birth certificate stating Maui as his birthplace. The politician and researcher followed his studies in medicine in Honolulu before going to live in Hong Kong. There, he took part in some political uprisings, having taken exile in several different countries in Europa, but also Japan, the US, and more. Although short, his presence in Macau (started in 1879) was the starting point for his world travels, but also a milestone for the city’s history and his own life. Yat-Sen’s knowledge was fundamental for the medical advancements in Macau, and that might be the reason why so many spots and venues are named after the doctor and politician.
Sun Yat-Sen is considered the first Chinese doctor to practice Western medicine in Macau, with Kiang Wu Hospital as his starting point, in 1982.
Archeology and more
A restoration–done by the Macau government in 2011–allowed specialists to find archeological findings, which are believed to be the remains of a very old venue made of stone on top of which Chong Sai Pharmacy was then erected. These remains are exhibited at the main entrance of the museum.
You’ll also be able to learn about the ancient Kraak porcelain as they recovered some of them are in the exhibition there as well. This kind of porcelain started being manufactured around the 16th century. According to research, this building was located along the city’s coastline, more specifically, the inner harbor area. Researchers say this actually makes sense since Kraak porcelain was mainly produced (in China) for export, which was done through Macau due to the region’s connection to maritime routes across Asia and the rest of the world. This kind of product has been found in a lot of other places in Macau since the 1990s, namely other venues in nearby streets and close to Dom Pedro V Theatre.
If you’re interested in knowing all about Sun Yat-Sen’s medical career and his life in Macau, but also about traditional architecture and archeology artifacts, this is the place to visit. With lots of items to check out, useful and interesting information on the history of Kraak porcelain, or how to tackle damping and salted water problems in old structures, the former Chong Sai Pharmacy offers powerful insights into Macau’s history for the past centuries.
Opening hours: Daily, 10:00am–6:00pm, free admission (closed on Tuesdays)
Former Chong Sai Pharmacy 80 Rua das Estalagens, Macau, +853 8399 6699, www.icm.gov.mo/chongsaipharmacy