Macau’s Famous “Cerco Gateway”

The former Portuguese colony of Macao was established as a prosperous trading port in the 16th century, although the first Portuguese Colonial stamps for Macau were issued in 1884 it did not formally become a colony of the Portuguese Empire until 1887.

The 1950 1p value featuring the Cerco Gate (Portas do Cerco) printed in ultramarine, was an addition to the original 1948 Views and Historical Buildings set of 12 stamps, which included a 1p value in green of the same design. The Portas do Cerco, literally “Border Gate” or “Barrier Gate”, was originally built in 1574 as part of a defensive wall by the Chinese, and after it’s destruction in 1867, was rebuilt in it’s present form by the Portuguese in a classical European style during 1870-71, with quotations from the Portuguese poet Camoens on the Macao side.

The “Border Gate” remained for many years the only way into or out of the colony from mainland China until the entire area was replanned in 1994, with the gateway being replaced by the new Customs and Immigration buildings that came into operation during 2004. The old Cerco Gateway still remains in it’s original location as a tourist attraction.

The same design was reused in the 1950-51 new colours issue, but printed in red-brown. The Cerco Gateway is also featured in later issues of Macao, for example the 1p value of the 1982-84 Buildings set.

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