Sydney is among the most popular cities in Australia, and the Sydney Opera House may just be one of its top attractions. Sydney Opera House is located on Bennelong Point on the harbours Port Jackson just north of the city’s centre. Directly across from it sits Sydney’s historic The Rocks and adjacent to it is the Royal Botanic Garden. The Opera House is conveniently accessible by foot, car, train or water and offers a free shuttle service for the convenience of its visitors. Sydney Opera House is accessible to all its visitors regardless of ability level. Visitors who need additional special accommodations can call ahead to ensure timely availability.
The Opera House is one of the most recognizable buildings not just in Australia but in the world. It was designed by Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect. It consists of two halls arranged next to and inclined slightly away from each other. The stunning ceremonial staircase leads from the vast forecourt to the two halls. Pedestrian concourses and terraces are sheltered by the distinctive sails of the roof.
The history of this iconic building began as early as 1947. In 1956, the government of New South Wales commissioned an international design competition that attracted noted architects from around the world. There were no guidelines, no budgetary limits and few requirements for the architects beyond an opera hall and a symphony concert hall. Jørn Utzon’s now legendary design won, and construction began shortly after. The roof alone took eight years to craft, with each shell comprising special ceramic tiles that took nearly three years to produce. As the project wore on, tensions ran high.
Utzon eventually resigned due to controversy and massive cost overruns, and the construction continued with Ted Farmer, NSW Government Architect, at the helm. Farmer completed the work on the interior, added additional venues and finished the glass walls, and in 1973, Queen Elizabeth II opened it. Today, Sydney Opera House has been World Heritage Listed and is considered to be one of the greatest architectural works of the 20th century. The Utzon Room was named in 2004 to honor the original architect, and this light, airy space with exposed concrete beams and colorful tapestry offers incredible acoustics and a beautiful view of the harbour.
Inside the Opera House
The Opera House may be best known for its performance halls and the world-renowned artists and performers that it hosts every year, but this beautiful building is home to far more than its concert halls. It also features a playhouse, theatres, a studio and a recording studio. Whether you are taking in a show, enjoying a tour or just visiting, you can also relax for dinner in one of its award-winning restaurants or grab a snack from one of its gourmet food trucks. Meet friends for a drink at one of the bars, or locate the perfect souvenir in the Sydney Opera House’s shops. The Opera House can provide you with an exciting evening immersed in the arts, or it can be a destination in which you can while away an entire day.
Sydney Opera House features entertainment to fit just about every personal preference, including classical music, theatre productions such as Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s opera “The King and I,” tours, dances and talks along with kid-friendly productions such as “Horrible Histories” and the youth orchestra. Shows change regularly, so check the Opera House’s website when you schedule your visit to make your plans. You can choose from nearly 1,600 shows every year, so you are sure to find a performance that you will love.
Visitors can take in a show or enjoy an inside look at the Opera House during one of its several available tours, including a historic look at the structure, a behind-the-scenes tour and a tasting tour that allows you to savour many of the treats available at its restaurants. Tours are available in English, Mandarin, Korean, French and German.
No trip to Sydney would be complete without a visit to its iconic Opera House. Even if none of the currently available shows appeal to you, you can still find plenty to learn about, do or enjoy during an afternoon or evening under its vast sails.