The Praia Grande 1900Praia Grande cerca 1900

One of the most enchanting scenes in Macao is that of this beautiful bay, quiet and graceful sweep of sea wall and rows of houses rising up the gentle slopes and the ancient forts and modern public buildings dotted here and there, while behind all rise the Mountains of Lappa and to the right those beyond the Barrier. All descriptions are imperfect; some fail from an attempt to liken this beautiful little gem with another world-renowned spot, the Bay of Naples. Let it be acknowledged at once that each is sui generis and attempt no comparison. There is no doubt when coming in from sea towards Naples and trying to detect Macao in Naples one does see a faint resemblence in one of the houseclad hills of the latter to Macao’s central portion ; but rather let one be content with enjoying the beauties of each and attempt no belittling of the grand proportions of the one or try to greaten the sweet gem-like curves and colour of dear old Macao. As an instance of what the artistic eye finds in the latter we quote from a short account of Macau appearing in the “Dublin University Magazine” for 1848:
A view of Macao from the sea is exquisitely fine. The semicircular appearance of the shore, which is unencumbered and unbroken by wharfs or piers [there are one or two small landing places projecting] and upon which the surge in continually breaking and receding in waves of foam, whereon the sun glitters in thousands of sparling beams, presents a scene of incomparable beauty. The Parade [Praia Grande] which is faced with an embankment of stone, fronts the sea and is about half a mile in length. A row of houses of a large description extends along its length. Some are coloured pink, some pale yellow and others white. The houses, with their large windows extending to the ground with curtains, convey an idea to the visitor that he has entered a European rather than an Asiatic seaport. This idea becomes still stronger by tin; constant ringing of the church bells and passing and repassing of priests clad in cassocks and three-cornered hats. But this illusion is quickly dispelled when the eye, turning towards the sea beholds the numerous sampans and mat-sail boats, or glancing shorewards rests upon figures clad in Chinese costume.”

POSTAL Praia Grande 1910POSTAL – PRAIA GRANDE cerca 1900

Unfortunately the outer Harbour on which the Praya Grande faces is shallow and any large vessels which may call at Macao have to lie some miles from the shore in the offing. The Inner Harbour lying between the Peninsula and the Island of Lappa affords a secure harbour, but, unfortunately it has been silting up with mud for many years past. Of late years, however, a dredger has improved matters. The Praya on the Inner Harbour presents a great contrast to the other Praya for whereas quiet reigns on the seaward one, the inland one is all bustle ; rows of Chinese vessels are anchored off the shore and boats and sampans line the banks on which coolies are busy loading or unloading cargo to carry into the stores, shops, and wholesale Chinese merchants’ places of business on this Menduia Praya or into the back streets.”

(1) BALL, J. Dyer – Macao: The Holy City; The Gem of Orient Earth. Printed by The China Baptist Publication Society, Canton, 1905, 83 p.