A-Ma Temple (媽閣廟) is the oldest Buddhist temple in Macau. Situated in the Barra District, at the base of Pehua Hill, the temple is dedicated to the god A-Ma (Mother and Queen of the Sea) after whom Macau or "Aomen" is also named. There are numerous legends about A-Ma, but the most popular is that she was a beautiful young girl from Fujian Province who saved a ship from sinking en route to Guangzhou. She vanished on return to Macau, and a temple was built at the spot where she later reappeared as a goddess.
Parts of the temple are more than 600 years old and were built before the arrival of the Portuguese. Today, the temple complex consists of Ming Dynasty shrines, prayer halls, pavilions and gardens creeping up the hillside. It is a working temple, both fascinating and atmospheric, and is particularly vibrant in April and May during the festival of A-Ma, when it bustles with pilgrims. It is also busy at Chinese New Year with the deafening sound of firecrackers.
A single morning or afternoon should be adequate to see all the temple has to offer as well as the adjacent Macau Maritime Museum.
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