The mysterious forerunner to the resort city of Macau was a blend of European and Chinese cultures.

In downtown Macau stands a stone statue of a Portuguese explorer. Its size and prominent positioning give the impression that Jorge Álvares is a major figure in the history of this city-state known as the “Vegas of Asia.”

In reality, Álvares is such a riddle that his likeness here is based on guesswork and, 500 years after his death, no one can yet pinpoint the location of his greatest achievement—the first European settlement in China. Historians aren’t even sure how he died. What they do believe is his death occurred at an important but elusive place called Tamão.

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