Leal Senado Building:
This structure was Macau’s first municipal chamber, a function that it still sees use as to this day, and was originally built in 1784. The name “Leal Senado” is Portuguese for Loyal Senate, derived from the title “City of Our Name of God Macau, There is None More Loyal” which was bestowed upon Macau by the Portuguese King Dom John IV in 1654. Inside the Building on the first floor there is a ceremonial meeting room which opens out into in an elaborately carved library stylized after the library Mafra Convent in Portugal, with a small chapel. There is a courtyard garden in the back, and the building itself has retained its neoclassical design as well as its original master walls and layout.
Address: No. 163 Av. Almeida Ribeiro (San Ma Lo)
Opening hours: Gallery: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (closed on Mondays, open on public holidays), Garden: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Bus routes nearby: 3, 3X, 4, 6A, 8A, 18A, 19, 26A, 33, N1A
History of the Leal Senado Building:
The Leal Senado Building was once the seat of the Portuguese Macau’s government (Leal Senado is Portuguese for Loyal Senate) known as the Legislative Assembly of Macau and the Municipal Council of Macau. It can be found at one end of the Senado Square. The title was bestowed upon Macau’s government in 1810 by Portugal’s Prince Regent Joao, who would later become Kind John VI of Portugal. This was rewarded out of respect for Macau’s loyalty to Portugal, which refused to recognize Spain’s sovereignty during the Philippine Dynasty that once occupied Portugal between 1580 and 1640. A plaque ordered by the King commemorating this loyalty can be seen in the entrance hall.
Once standing on the site of the Leal Senado building was a Chinese-style pavilion. That building was then a meeting location for the Portuguese and Chinese officials, and where the Ming dynasty government announced it’s regulations to Macau. The Portuguese planned to buy the pavilion as early as 1583, as well as some of the Chinese homes behind it. It wasn’t until 1784 however, that the Portuguese government finally was allowed to purchase the property for the price of 80,000 taels.
After this purchase the Leal Senado building was erected, it became the center of Macau’s politics ever since. Portuguese rallies and celebrations were also held there. Although it was built in 1784, its style was similar to the plain style from 14th to 15th century Portugal, rather than the Pombaline style which was popular at the time. A number of institutions were associated and added to the structure including the museum Luis Vaz de Camoes, a post office, a court, and a prison, but all of these structures have since been moved elsewhere.
Being completely refurbished in 1904, the building was damaged again by another typhoon in 1936. It became the headquarters of the Institute of Civic and Municipal Affairs in 1999 after the handover of Macau to China in 1999.
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