The building was designed by award-winning Danish architect Jorn Utzon and took 16 years to build – years filled with challenges as the project pushed the boundaries with its ambitious design.
Completed in 1973, the futuristic shell-shaped sails set on a huge granite platform at Bennelong Point have become the focal point of Sydney Harbour, and one of Australia’s greatest icons.
The building is also a cultural hub – one of the world’s foremost performing arts centres with a number of different spaces that play host to more than 2,000 events a year including concerts, operas, plays and much more – with an annual audience of more than 2 million people.
Backstage tours are also popular, with more than 200,000 people each year heading behind the scenes for a glimpse at the day-to-day runnings of the building and its fascinating history.
It’s popular for socialising too, with many food and drink options tucked beneath and around the giant edifice, all offering those amazing views across the harbour.
American architect Louis Kahn
Unique Things to See and Do in/near Sydney Opera House
- Take a behind the scenes tour of the Opera House
- Watch a concert or a play in this world class arts centre
- Have a drink at the famous Opera Bar with views across the harbour
- Head to Matt Moran restaurant Aria for a spot of fine dining with some very fine views
A Brief History of the Sydney Opera House
Danish architect Jorn Utzon was initially rejected by three judges in the 1956 competition to design the Sydney Opera House, with his entry said to have been consigned to the rubbish bin. But it was rescued with fourth judge, American architect Eero Saarinen, who was convinced of its merits. In the end, Utzon beat off the 232 other entrants to snare the prize.
But after years of working to make his ambitious vision a reality, Utzon resigned from his position as chief architect in February 1966, after the election of a new Liberal government saw the Minister of Works cease payments to him. Although there were calls for him to be reinstated with protests in the streets, Utzon left Australia that April of the same year and never returned to see his design become a reality.
That wasn’t the end of his association with the Opera House, however. In the late nineties, the Sydney Opera House Trust re-established communications with the architect, appointing him as a design consultant for future works at the site.
And when Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the Sydney Opera House on October 20, 1973, Utzon, who was absent from the ceremony, was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of Architects Australia.
Getting to Sydney Opera House
Located right by Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House is surrounded by transport options. It is just a five to seven minute walk to Circular Quay Station and trains that will connect you with the rest of the city and beyond. You can also catch buses and ferries from right outside Circular Quay Station.
There is also a shuttle service between the station and the Opera House which is designed for elderly and less mobile customers, although seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.
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