The Guia Circuit: 6.2 Kilometres of Macao History - with lot of photos

The Guia Circuit: 6.2 Kilometres of Macao History - with lot of photos

23.09.2019: Macao’s Guia Circuit is much more than one of the world’s most famous street race tracks. Along its 6.2 kilometres lie countless examples of the city’s

Macao’s Guia Circuit is much more than one of the world’s most famous street race tracks.

Along its 6.2 kilometres lie countless examples of the city’s rich and diverse cultural history.

In historical terms, one of the more recent landmarks along the way is the Macau Grand Prix Building.  Home to the Grand Prix since 1993, a new Race Control Tower was added in 2013 for the 60th running of the event.

Utilized year-round by the SAR’s Sports Bureau, which along with the Grand Prix also organizes other major international as well as community sports events, the complex also hosts regular educational visits from local students of all ages.


The Grand Prix’s Race Control Tower has changed much over the years, with the most recent opening in 2013 in time for the 60th running of the event.

During the Grand Prix itself, the building becomes the “nerve centre” where race officials, stewards and timekeepers ensure the event runs like clockwork, and houses the more-than 1,000 media accredited each year. Guests and VIPs mingle in the rooftop hospitality areas, while the F3 and motorcycle Grand Prix racing machinery is housed in the pits at ground level.


The paddock, which for 50 weeks of the year serves as a car park for tourist buses, houses the GT cars and includes an area where all racing vehicles are scrutinised to ensure they conform to the regulations. Beneath the paddock is an underground carpark which houses the Guia and support race cars during the Grand Prix.

The Reservoir, located opposite the Grand Prix Building and behind the grandstands, was completed in 1938, and at the time held sufficient water for the entire city for three months.  

Avenida de Amizade & Mandarin Oriental Bend

Avenida de Amizade, which runs from the North East corner of the reservoir all the way down to the Lisboa Bend, was once on the waterfront. Following extensive reclamation into the sea, it is now lined on both sides by hotels and commercial buildings.

Until the new Grand Prix Building was completed in 1993, the Grand Prix’s start/finish line was located on the main straight on Avenida da Amizade between Reservoir Bend and Mandarin Oriental Bend, formerly known as Omega Bend.  The Race Control Tower began as a makeshift hut and was developed over the years to become a permanent structure which can still be seen directly opposite the Grand Lapa Hotel (the former Mandarin Oriental Hotel).


The start/finish line in 1967 and today

In recent years, the Macau Grand Prix Organizing Committee, in cooperation with the Cultural Industry Fund and the Automobile General Association Macao-China, has opened a racing culture store on the ground floor of the old race control tower to sell a variety of products related to the Macau Grand Prix.

 The Macau Grand Prix Organising Committee has also established the Macau GP Club, whose headquarters are also in the former race control tower, to further strengthen ties between the Grand Prix and Macao residents.


Lisboa Bend

The stretch of track between Mandarin and Lisboa Bend – formerly Statue Corner – was known as Yacht Club Straight after the facility which stood there for many years.

A Macao landmark, the Hotel Lisboa gives its name to the most famous turn on the Guia Circuit.  Built in the 1960s, the hotel remains one of the most recognised structures in the city.

While the city has transformed around it, Lisboa Bend, pictured here in 1985, has changed little since the eponymous hotel was built in the 1960s

San Francisco Bend

Next is San Francisco Bend named after the San Francisco Fortress, built in 1629 as part of Macao’s defence constructions against the Dutch. Today the pink and white building is the Macau Security Forces Management Bureau and home to the picturesque Clube Militar. Originally known as the ‘Grémio Militar’, the building was constructed in 1870 as an officers’ mess.


San Francisco Hill with the pink fortress on the left

Maternity Bend

Hospital Bridge and Maternity Bend take their names from the site of what is now the Conde S. Januário Hospital. First built in 1873 as a military hospital, the hilltop landmark has been extensively reconstructed since then.



The hospital was named after Januário Correia de Almeida, Governor of Macao for two years from 1872. Awarded the titles ‘Conde’ (Count) and ‘Visconde’ (Viscount) he was henceforth known as ‘Visconde de S. Januário’.

The rural surroundings can clearly be seen as a Grand Prix car drives up towards the hospital in 1963.



Guia Hill

After the hospital, the three grand mansions built on Guia Hill in the 1900s still remain today. First is the former ‘Vila Alegre’, completed in 1917 and built by Portuguese lawyer Francisco Xavier da Silva. Since 1937, the yellow structure has been the Ling Nam school.

Next is a grey and white building which was completed in 1917 and built by Macanese lawyer Luís Nolasco da Silva. Housing a convent for several decades, today it is home to the Macao Monetary Authority. A few metres further along is the neo-classical building which was the residence of renowned intellect and art collector, Manuel da Silva Mendes. Built in 1905, today it houses the United Nations University (UNU).

All the three grand mansions built on Guia Hill in the 1900s have been beautifully preserved – and put to good use

In the 1930s, Estrada de Cacilhas, the cliff-side road which between the Parsee cemetery and the reservoir, was described in guidebooks as Macao’s smaller, scenic answer to the French Riviera’s Corniche. The neighbourhood contained a number of substantial private houses, some of which still remain including the renovated, yellow-painted ‘Faraway Hill’.


Moorish Hill


Moorish Hill is named after the community of Moors which once resided in this part of Macao.  All that remains today is the Islamic Mosque and Cemetery.


Donna Maria Bend is named after one of Macao’s seven hills which itself was named for one of Portugal’s 19th Century Queens. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1819, and her charitable nature won her the affection of the Portuguese-speaking world which named her ‘Maria, á Boa Mãe’ (‘Maria, the Good Mother’).


Melco Hairpin

The Melco Hairpin is located where the former Macau Electric Company (abbreviated to “Melco”) was housed.  The original building was demolished making way for today’s CEM (Companhia de Electricidade de Macau) building.


Fisherman’s Bend & R Bend

Fisherman’s Bend is named after “Rua dos Pescadores” (‘Street of the Fishermen’), the street on which the bend is located, and leads to the final turn before the finish line, R Bend.  Situated on the Macao peninsular, this was used as a surveyor’s reference point when building the outer harbour – the “R” being an abbreviation for “reference”. Latterly it was known as ‘Rothmans Bend’ before reverting to ‘R Bend’.


In a world of change, today’s Macau Grand Prix drivers share the same exhilaration of completing a lap of the Guia Circuit as their forebears did more 65 years ago – albeit at a somewhat faster pace!


- Nikki Kemp - photos Macau GP


23.09.2019 / MaP

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