The best cities around the world to find colonial architecture, Global buildings, Macau Portuguese property

The Best Cities To Find Colonial Architecture Guide

18 Feb 2023

One of the best things about visiting a city is learning about the culture and history, and a huge part of that comes through via the architecture. Cities right across the world have historic architecture that really tells a story, and none more so than old colonial cities and nations.

The Best Cities To Find Colonial Architecture

The Best Cities Around The World To Find Colonial Architecture

To this day there are still some stunning examples of colonial architecture in cities, incorporating dashes of a “mother country” despite having long left the coup. This is especially common in the likes of South America and Asia. But where in the world are you likely to find the best examples of it?

Macau – Portuguese colonial

The Best Cities To Find Colonial Architecture

Macau is a very different place today than what it once was. Now one of two Special Administrative Regions of China, it is a hotspot for gambling, with some of the world’s biggest casinos, glowing bright lights and all-singing, all-dancing shows.

Nicknamed the Las Vegas of the East, it’s hugely popular for tourists who want to enjoy casino games such as slots and blackjack, but many who visit will also get a taste of the area’s old Portuguese heritage – refer to

Macau was under Portuguese rule for almost 450 years, eventually being handed over to China in just 1999. Plenty of that Mediterranean ruling is still on display, with some truly stunning architecture reminiscent of being in Lisbon located between the Oriental-style temples across the city. It offers a unique fusion, with the Historic Centre of Macau now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

New Orleans – French colonial

The Best Cities To Find Colonial Architecture

New Orleans is one of the finest places in the USA to see old French colonial architecture. It was originally established as a city by the French back in the 18th century and was in a perfect spot for trading with Europe thanks to the Mississippi river.

Building work began at apace and it wasn’t long before the city became the capital of French-controlled Louisiana. That led to many important French-style buildings being located in the city, although many have sadly since been destroyed by fires. However, the French Quarter is now the oldest and most visited parts of the city where you’ll find dozens of buildings in the colonial style, including the St. Louis Cathedral, one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.

Then there’s the houses, which have been built on raised platforms with wooden frames that are well and truly the postcard picture of New Orleans these days.

Singapore – British colonial

The Best Cities To Find Colonial Architecture

Singapore has long been associated with British colonialism and for long periods of time, the British armed forces had bases out there. Today, it’s a little different and one of the most luxurious places to visit on the planet.

However, there are many fine examples of British colonial buildings, most notably Raffles Hotel and the Singapore Cricket Club. Some of the best examples though can be found by simply walking the streets and looking at the shop fronts.

Among the best neighbourhoods to visit to find examples of residential areas that still carry the colonial style, amidst the vast skyscrapers now shooting up in Singapore, are Emerald Hill and some of the smaller streets around Orchard Street.

It’s a fabulous place and with such a long history it’s always interesting to discover more in the many museums that do tell the story of Singapore.

Other good examples of British colonial architecture include New Zealand’s Oamaru, which ultimately looks like an old British harbour town, and Philadelphia with Pennsylvania one of 13 states founded by British colonies.

Comments on this guide to The Best Cities Around The World To Find Colonial Architecture article are welcome.

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Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas
Design: Steven Holl Architects
Nancy and Rich Kinder Building Houston
photograph © Richard Barnes, courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Nancy and Rich Kinder Building Houston

Commonwealth Pier, Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, Massachusetts
Design Architect: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
Commonwealth Pier Boston

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