The Camoes Garden and Grotto is the oldest and largest park in Macau and covers nearly a 20,000 square meter area. Found at the far end of the garden is a fountain that contains a bronze sculpture called “Embrace”. The sculpture was made to be a symbol of the centuries’ old friendship between China and Portugal, which can also attest to the old history of the garden. A gazebo can also be found at the highest point of the park where striking views of the harbor can be seen.
After aggravating the court officials, a Portuguese poet named Luis de Camoes was exiled to Macau where he lived in this very cave for two years. It was also here where he finished his masterpiece “Os Lusiadas” or “Soul of Portugal”. This national epic was composed to record the great Portuguese exploration that shaped the world’s primary globe-girdling empire. By the early 18th Century, this piece of undeveloped land was occupied by the Chairman of the British East India Company. When the British moved out in 1835, the land was brought over to a Portuguese merchant who later built his resident home here. The Portuguese merchant adored doves, which is why he raised hundreds of them that constantly hovered over his garden. His home served as a beautiful backdrop to the hundreds of flying doves while the pavilions and buildings of his home looked like nests. His home then became a marvelous scene to look at. In year 1949, a bust of Luis Camoes was installed by the Portuguese merchant. Paths that lead to a wooden hill were constructed behind the grotto where a belvedere, stone tablets and seats were installed for people to rest amidst his residence.
Upon death of the merchant, the garden was donated to the government and then later opened to the public as a commemorative garden to the famed Portuguese poet who lived about 400 years since. Hence the name Camoes Garden.
To this date, a bronze bust of Luis de Camoes known as the Camoes Grotto is in a natural rock alcove in the wooden garden that remains the most scenic spot in the entire garden. The Macau people continue to pay great tribute and respect to the poet as “Portugal Day” was declared by the government on the day he died. The Portuguese in Macau assemble in the park yearly to celebrate the holiday and to commemorate the great poet.
The garden comes alive in the morning as slow and silent tai’chi groups do their daily aerobics classes. Macau people of all ages can be seen stretching, jogging and just gossiping their way into the day. In a lone corner of the park, songbirds are shown off with their owners making sure their bird warbles the loudest. Old men are then seen nearby playing Chinese checkers as they smoke beneath the morning sun.
To visit the Camoes Garden and Grotto, take Bus. No. 17 from the Lisboa Hotel as this route will take you directly to the famous garden. The natural bounty coupled with such historical atmosphere is what makes this famous garden such a serene beauty. It’s something not to miss when touring around Macau.