All that remains of the greatest of Macau's churches is its magnificent stone facade and grand staircase.
The church was built in 1602 adjoining the Jesuit College of St. Paul's, the first Western college in the Far East where missionaries such as Matteo Ricci and Adam Schall studied Chinese before serving at the Ming Court in Beijing as astronomers and mathematicians.
The facade of carved stone was built in 1620-27 by Japanese Christian exiles and local craftsmen under the direction of Italian Jesuit Carlo Spinola.
Today St. Paul's Church is a symbol of Macau and recognized worldwide.
The façade is divided into four horizontal sections, topped with a pediment and nine vertical divisions.
In 1835, at the height of a major typhoon, the church caught fire and burned to the ground leaving only the facade and a staircase.
The Crypt behind the ruins of St. Paul's Church contains the bones of the martyrs of Japan and Vietnam.
In the middle of the third floor is a carved statue of St. Virgin Maria, surrounded with peonies and chrysanthemums on each side.
The architecture combines eastern features with the European Renaissance style, including Chinese elements in the carved stonework.
After the 1990-1995 restoration, a museum was opened in the area behind the facade ruin.
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