Jardim do Sao Francisco (or Saint Francisco garden) is located in the heart of Macau. It’s a pretty and convenenient spot for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. It sits just around the back of the Grand Lisboa Casino, between the Portuguese Military Club (possible for non members to go for lunch and a taste of old colonial Macau) and the Cineateatro de Macau (Cinema).
Saint Francisco garden is built on the spot where a convent stood in the late 16th century. The convent was built by the Franciscan order from Castille. These were later replaced by friars from Portugal, but the original inhabitants are still remembered in the Chinese name for the garden – ‘Ka-Si-Lán-Fa-Yun’, which means ‘Garden of the Castilians’.
The garden is made up of 3 sections. The main lower section spills out into the street. It is by a busy junction, and even with the trees and flower beds you may not notice you are in a garden. Your attention is likely to be pulled to the people, traffic and buildings (and patterns in the the traditionally Portuguese footpaths here).
The Octagonal Library stands in this section. Walk a bit further though and before you reach the Military Club the garden is recessed away from the street. It starts to have a different feel here, more like a garden.
This second section is small, and ties the lower level to the upper. It used to be joined to the rest of the lower garden, until it split by the building of the Rua de Sta Clara in the 1920s. This section of the garden is dominated by a charming open double staircase which joins the lower to the upper section. The pink and white colour scheme of the Military Club extends into the garden up the walls and around the staircase balustrade. There are also some free public toilets just to the left of the staircase.
The staircase leads up to the upper level. The colour scheme is continued on the round tower there. The tower was originally built by the Portuguese to honour soldiers in the First World War. Now it is given over to the Association for the Handicapped.
There is a children’s play area next to the tower – ideal if you have small children (my son loves the slides when we go there).
Address: Avenida da Praia Grande / Rua Nova à Guia, Macau