I love this place. It is my favourite in Macau. The House of the Mandarin is such a beautiful piece of East meets West architecture and it has a rich history.
It is the former residence of Zheng Guanying and his father Zheng Wenrui. Zheng Guanying was a member of the literati, who published several books that are still considered classics today.
The Casa do Mandarim was built around 1881 and it was home to the author and his family, who lived quite luxuriously in the spacious complex with 60 rooms. It must have looked amazing back then.
But in the 1950s and 1960s the descendants of the Zheng’s family moved out and the house was rented out. The rooms were divided, and at one point almost 300 tenants lived inside the complex – and not in very nice living conditions. They shared communal bathrooms and cooked on open fires in makeshift kitchens in the alleys. As a result, the building was in a sorrow state.
When the government took over in 2001, more than 80% of the architecture was damaged. From 2002 to 2010 the government ran a conservation project, and finally the old house was restored to its former glory.
At first glance it looks like a typical, traditional Guangdong’s residences with a beautiful moon gate as the entrance to the compound. But if you look closer, there are many Western features such as European-style pillars, a wooden frieze, stone floors and wooden room dividers. These are next to Asian-style blinds and windows.
It is a quiet oasis in the middle of the hectic city. We’ve never encountered more than 30 people at the same time in the building, and the compound is quite big. It is great for kids to explore, just be mindful that there are staircases and stone walls, so keep an eye on your little ones.
PS: An interesting read in the New York Times tells the story of the restoration project.
No. 10, Travessa de António da Silva, Macau
Open every day from 10am to 6pm
Closed on Wednesdays
No entrance fee