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A-Ma Temple

A-Ma Temple, located in the southeast of Macau, is the oldest one among the three largest Buddhist temples of Macau (the other two are Lin Fung Temple  and Kun Lam Temple). Built in the year 1488 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) of China, the temple already possesses 500 hundred years of history and is characterized by the ancient Chinese architectural style. In a setting of mountain, sea and ancient pines, the temple attracts visitors of all backgrounds every year.

A-Ma Temple was originally called 'A-Ma Gau' and known as 'Tianhou Temple'. The legend has it that A-Ma, also named Niangma, is the oracle of Fujian Province. It is said that after her death, she often appears on the sea and helps businessmen and fishermen out of trouble. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Emperor Kangxi endowed her with the title of 'Tianhou' (Heavenly Goddess) and A-Ma became known as the goddess of the sea. A-Ma enjoys a high status in the eyes of the people of Macau, and is deeply imbedded in the folk legends, myths, couplets, stamps, currencies and other aspects of Macau culture. And the temple is undoubtedly the symbol of this culture.

The name of Macau is also connected with the temple. Hundreds years ago, when the Portuguese arrived at the seashore opposite to the A-Ma Temple , they asked the locals what the name of the land was. The locals misunderstood , taking the request to be for the name of the temple , and answered 'Ma Gau. So the Portuguese transliterated it into ' Macau' .

Every Chinese Spring Festival and on the anniversary of the birth of A-Ma (Lunar Mar.23th) are the peak times at A-Ma Temple. From the eve of the Chinese Spring Festival, many pious men and women will gather here to pray for blessings. And during the anniversary days, operas would be held in the temple.

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