Motael Church, standing as the oldest Roman Catholic church in Timor-Leste, holds a significant place in the history and heart of Dili. Ranked 14th among 15 top things to do in Dili, it’s a site of historical and spiritual importance.


Type: Church
Rating: 3/5

Historical Significance

Motael Church is more than a place of worship; it’s a symbol of Timor-Leste’s turbulent history. In 1991, it became a pivotal site when a young activist was killed by Indonesian rebels, marking a critical moment in the country’s struggle for independence.

Architecture and Ambiance

  • Aesthetic Appeal: The church is notable for its architectural beauty.
  • Accessibility: Visitors often find the church locked, suggesting limited access to the interior.

Cultural Importance

  • Tour Starting Point: Many city tours in Dili begin at Motael Church, highlighting its importance as a cultural landmark.
  • Spiritual Center: As the oldest Catholic church in the country, it represents the deep-rooted Christian faith in Timor-Leste.


  • Visit Duration: Short visit, mainly for its historical value.
  • Best Time to Visit: Check for public events or services to ensure access.
  • For Whom: Ideal for history enthusiasts and those interested in religious sites.


While access to Motael Church might be restricted, its historical significance and role in Dili’s tours make it a noteworthy stop for understanding the city’s past.

Discover the historical and spiritual essence of Dili through a visit to the Motael Church.