The Sydney Opera House is Australia’s most recognizable building
and Sydney’s most famous landmark.
Based on its design and construction, the Sydney Opera House is an icon of Australia’s creative and technical achievement and considered a masterpiece of 20th century architecture. Viewed from the air, a ferry, or by foot, the vision of its soaring white roof shell-shaped sails is spectacular and unforgettable. Its beauty is further enhanced by its location within the harbor on Bennelong Point.
I wasn’t able to attend a performance, traveling with a little one makes such entertainment a bit challenging, but I did get a chance to visit inside to see its five theaters which include a 2,700-seat Concert Hall, opera and drama theaters, a playhouse and a studio. I was also interested to learn about the building’s long and troubled history. Considering the challenges it’s almost a miracle that the building was ever completed.
In 1954 a committee was appointed to advise the government on the building of an opera house. The committee launched a competition to find ideas and a suitable plan. Submissions from over 200 architects from around the world came in, but only one dazzled the judges and caught their imagination. Although the plan of Joern Utzon, a young Dane, was brilliant, it had all the markings of a great disaster. Complex engineering problems and escalating costs made it a source of great public debate. Originally projected to cost A$7 million and take four years to complete, the building instead required A$102 million and approximately 16 years. However, since its completion in 1973, it has gained widespread recognition and respect as a performing arts venue.
Today the Sydney Opera House continues to attract worldwide acclaim and great artists from across the world. It is one of the busiest performing arts centers in the world, visited by more than eight million people every year.
In 2007 it was listed as a World Heritage site.