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“Interesting place” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Lou Kau Mansion

Lou Kau Mansion
No.7, Travessa da Se, Macau, China
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Ranked #53 of 193 things to do in Macau
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London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
150 reviews 150 reviews
97 attraction reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
90 helpful votes 90 helpful votes
“Interesting place”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

The place is hidden in some side alley, right opposite eating places. The house is interesting and worth seeing.

Visited June 2012
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37 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Brampton, Canada
Top Contributor
523 reviews 523 reviews
209 attraction reviews
Reviews in 176 cities Reviews in 176 cities
342 helpful votes 342 helpful votes
“Interesting place on Macau Architecture”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 1, 2012

This is an old mansion for one of Macau's richest families.Visiting the place will give you a better understanding of the architecture of this Portuguese city.

You can see samples of intricate wood designs and patterns of early Macau houses.

Visited November 2011
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The Hague, The Netherlands
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83 reviews 83 reviews
41 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
284 helpful votes 284 helpful votes
“Well preserved Chinese merchant’s home”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2012

Casa de Lou Kau (Lou Kau Mansion) dates from 1889 and was built by a wealthy Chinese merchant. Interesting building with all the original details left. It is near the Largo do Senado (Senate Square); just walk in when you pass the mansion.

Visited January 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chennai
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90 reviews 90 reviews
77 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
358 helpful votes 358 helpful votes
“A saga of triumph and tragedy…”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2012

Lou Kau Mansion dates back to around 1890 – this Cantonese-style mansion was the home of tycoon Lou Wa Sio (aka Lou Kau), who was knighted by the King of Portugal and even has Lou Kau Street in Macau named after him. It is located at No.7, Travessa da Se near St. Dominic’s Church. The mansion is open from 9am to 7pm and admission is free, though entry to the second level is restricted during weekends because of the relatively large number of visitors. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The house has a recessed entrance, and the overhang offers protection from the weather for the decorative frieze above the entrance door. This high ceilinged grey brick house has two storeys and two courtyards separating three halls on the ground floor – the Entrance Hall (Men Guan Hall), Tea Hall (Sedan Hall) and the Senior Hall (Tou Hall). This symmetric arrangement of halls is apparently in line with the hierarchical structure of traditional Chinese families where the spaces further in are reserved for seniors in the family and hence more private.
While primarily Chinese in character, this mansion borrows several influences from Western architecture – as with most heritage buildings in Macau, it is an interesting blend of East and West. For example, the oyster shell windows, painted eaves, hanging scrolls, hand carved furniture and screens are distinctly Oriental while balustrades and wooden ceilings, stained glass windows and cast iron railings are clearly of Western origin.

Well after we visited this mansion in end March 2012, we stumbled upon this story of Lou Kau’s triumph and tragedy – while we cannot vouch for its veracity, it is fleshed out with enough detail to make it more than believable. Here is our abridged version of the Lou Kau saga, of a family once the wealthiest in Macau reduced to penury all too soon.

Lou Kau was born in 1848 the third of four sons of a modest Guangdong Chinese family When Lou was nine, his family moved to Macau to seek its fortune. Lou, an extremely shrewd, enterprising young man, first set up a money exchange business called Bou Hong Bank, and then got into importing pork from China to Macau. Opium was an important source of revenue for the government, and Lou’s next venture was an opium franchise from the government which made him his maiden fortune.

Not content with his success, Lou moved on to set up a gambling business in Guangdong. With the government of Macau legalizing gambling, Lou Kau was the first in Macau to be awarded a gambling franchise. Lou’s casino offered Fan Tan, one of the most popular Chinese forms of gambling. Riding the success of his opium and gambling operations, Lou prospered beyond all imagination and soon was the richest man in Macau.

Lou did give back to society too – he was a generous philanthropist, funding hospitals, schools and charities both in Macao and in the Chinese mainland. Recognition of his contribution came in the form of awards from the king of Portugal and the Chinese emperor. However his business acumen continued to fuel his unsatiated business ambition.

When the government of his native Guangdong province invited bids for a sole gambling franchise, Lou saw the huge opportunity presented by a population of thirty million against the mere 100,000 residents of Macau. Lou formed a consortium of investors from Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau and put in an audacious multi million dollar winning bid which gave them the franchise for eight years.

However, things did not go well for this business empire builder and his consortium company Hong Feng. A series of downturns hit Lou’s business: (a) the government did not honour its assurance of shutting down illegal casino operators which diluted his revenue (b) a very high ranking Chinese official decided that eight years was too long a franchise period, and (c) a Viceroy of Guangdong and Guangxi who was a bitter opponent of gambling as a social evil banned gambling and refused to return Lou’s bid money too. The most enormous bet Lou ever made had failed.

Facing financial ruin, Lou appealed to the Portuguese government for help, as also from his business associates in Hong Kong and Macau. But the die was cast – no one would advance Lou any money since everyone knew there was no way he would be able to repay them. In despair he hanged himself at Lou Kau Mansion in 1906 – he was 59.

After his father’s death, Lou’s eldest son, Lou Lim Ieoc took over the reins and revived the family fortunes to some extent. However, Lim Ieoc died young at just 49. In 1937, the Macau gambling franchise of the family expired and with it began the decline of the Lou family which was forced to sell property and rent their houses, including the Mansion which was once home to one of Lou’s many wives. His descendants apparently now lead modest, low profile lives in stark contrast to the flamboyant, daring Lou Kau.

Poetic justice perhaps for an entrepreneur whose family fortune was built on two of the most destructive vices of the Chinese and whose success must doubtless have ruined many hapless families.

If you would like to read the full Lou Kau story: http://www.macaomagazine.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:macao-mansion-hides-story-of-wealth-and-tragedy&catid=37:issue-2

Visited March 2012
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Macau, China
Top Contributor
94 reviews 94 reviews
58 attraction reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
155 helpful votes 155 helpful votes
“Mix of East with West”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2011

In the San Malo district of Macau there is very little that isn't traditionally Portuguese, so a stop at this small mansion is a nice change from all the European style buildings. The house was once the home of a wealthy Chinese businessman and has many traditional aspects of the Chinese culture. The shrine at the doorway, the layout of the building and the interesting Chinese details throughout the building are very traditional. However, since he was wealthy, and had access to the European products, such as stained glass windows.
It is a lovely little house, but there is no information posted in English, and the staff is likely to speak Mandarin and Cantonese. So, I recommend purchasing the very nice brochure from the guards, it is very informative, interesting and really quite pretty. Due to safety reasons the upstairs has limited access on weekends and holidays. They take tours upstairs approximately every 30 minutes, in either Mandarin or Cantonese. If you are lucky the tour guide will speak English and be willing to answer any questions.
It isn't as big as the Mandarin's house, but it is more centrally located, so may be a better choice for those with less time who want to see a touch of China in this sea of European buildings.

Visited September 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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