A jewel in Australia crown Most Iconic Sydney Opera House

Sydney is the high spirited capital city of New South Wales and the most popular city in Australia and Oceania. Beautiful Sydney is home to a large and varied population and most populated city in Australia which means it's always full of excitements. We are so lucky to have an opportunity to live and enjoy in the  beautiful and world famous Sydney. Living in Sydney bring most spectacular things into our daily life. It is the country’s leading magnificent city and this is the place to plan the trip of a lifetime.

Today, when people think of Australia, the first image that comes to mind is the Sydney Opera House. A trip to Sydney wouldn’t be complete without visiting Australia's most iconic land mark Sydney Opera House. The waterfront of Sydney, with the glorious view of Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Opera House is a major attraction for visitors from all over the world. Today it is Australia’s number one tourist destination, welcoming more than 8.2 million visitors a year and one of the world’s busiest performing arts centers. The Opera House would be one of the most memorable things you will see in Sydney. 


Getting to Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is a 5-7-minute walk to Circular Quay which is regularly served by public buses, trains and ferries. 

By Train

The nearest train station is Circular Quay.It is wheelchair-accessible.If you are coming on the Eastern Suburbs line or from the North Shore you will need to change at either Town Hall , Central or Wynyard station and take a train going to Circular Quay. It is only a 5 to 7 min walk from Circular Quay.

By Walk

The Opera House is an easy walk from the city centre. You can enjoy a most picturesque route to the Opera House from the city area through many streets.

By Bus

You are coming from anywhere within the central Sydney area, a bus should be more convenient. Catch the bus to Circular Quay and walk. If you want to make sure, just ask the bus driver. The free 555 service goes to the Circular Quay.

A free wheelchair accessible courtesy bus operates between Circular Quay and the street level entrance of the Sydney Opera House West lift access inside. 

By Taxi

There are plenty of taxis in everywhere in Sydney. You can take a taxi to Opera house from the Airport or the Central Station.

By Ferry

An inexpensive and relaxing way to see Sydney is by ferry.
The ferries are combined with the public bus and train service and reasonably cheap.In the city, the main terminal for ferries is at Circular Quay. You can take a ferry from Manly, Parramatta, Darling Harbour, Luna Park, Meadowbank and many more places to the Circular Quay. There are number of ferry wharves in metro area.


UNESCO World Heritage Site  

The Sydney Opera House constitutes a masterpiece of 20th century architecture.On 28 June 2007 the Sydney Opera House was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List under the World Heritage Convention, placing it alongside the Taj Mahal, the ancient Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China as one of the most outstanding places on Earth. It was listed on the State Heritage Register in 2003.

Expert evaluation report to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, 2007 says as "It stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.” 

Tale of The Opera House

There is an interesting story behind every iconic building. This is the revealing of that fascinating history tale. The Sydney Opera House, as we know it, was almost not built. The Premier of New South Wales, Joe Cahill, announced the government’s intention of putting Sydney on the world map by creating an opera house in 1952. He had a dream of a building unlike any other.

In January 1956, an international design competition for an opera house on Sydney Harbour held. Nearly 1000 entrants registered their interest from 32 countries. 233 entries were received. Many of them from the most famous architects of the time. A young Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, sent his concept drawings named as ‘sculptural form that would relate as naturally to the harbour as the sails of its yachts’ to Sydney just before the competition closed. But the three architects took one look at Utzon’s submission and immediately rejected it.

Eero Saarinen, an American architect, was one of the four judges. He arrived late in Sydney, after the preliminary judging had already taken place. Saarinen was underwhelmed by the shortlist so he started searching through the reject pile. He picked-up Utzon’s drawings and announced that it was the winning design in 1957. 

His design was for a compound with two theaters side by side on a large podium. It was covered by interlocking concrete shells, which acted as wall and roof as well. Another smaller shell set apart from the others was to cover the restaurant.

Construction of the Opera House 

On 2 March 1959, in a rainy day,a crowd gathered under umbrellas, to watch the ceremony that start of construction of the Sydney Opera House. Jørn Utzon had came in Sydney a week before with a bronze plaque was placed at the intersect point of the two halls. NSW Premier Joseph Cahill screwed the plaque into place and jackhammering immediately began. We can see the plaque still be on the steps today.Work was begun to excavate and level the site to bedrock to lay the foundations for the massive concrete base or podium. The podium, designed to look solid and fixed, was guidance by Mayan temples seen by Utzon on his Mexico tour.


The entire construction of the Sydney Opera House was bother with problems. First, the podium was found to be not strong enough to support the shells and the engineers realized the arches and sails would not be self-supporting, because they were too heavy. Then the problem of the shells, which were elliptical, parabolic and finally spherical. Utzon's original drawings showed them as relatively squat, free form concrete shells. The problem of the roof structure was finally resolved with the adoption of a ribbed shell system, with the shells having a uniform curvature constructed on a 75m radius sphere. But it took six years to resolve. This preliminary work had not been budgeted for, setting the building on a course of extended overruns beyond its estimated cost of cost of 3.5 million pounds.

Though it had so many construction problems, Premier Joe Cahill was in a hurry, fearful the project would get spoiled by political opposition.  68 years old Joe won re-election in March 1959  when construction began. But 7 months later Premier was falling ill at a meeting in Parliament House and passed away the next day. From his death bed he requested  Norman Ryan, the Minister for Public Works, to not allow the opera house project to fail. As his wish, from 1959 Sydney Opera House slowly and steadily transforming the promontory and becoming the largest concrete structure in the southern hemisphere.

But in 1966 Jørn Utzon resigned from the project construction of the Opera House due to the conflict between Utzon and the new state government and he leaved from Australia vowing never to return. New state government appointed a new team of architects to redesign and complete the interiors under the supervision of the government architect Ted Farmer.

Instead of the estimated four-year timeline and A$7 million (US$5 million) price tag, the project took a massive A$102 million to complete. With many problems and conflicts, The Opera House took 14 years to construct, from 1958 to 1972 employed more than 1200 of workers. After 15 years of construction, the Sydney Opera House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20th of October in 1973. The architect was not invited to the ceremony, and it wasn't his name even mentioned during any of the speeches.The first performance in the complex was the Opera Australia’s production of Sergei Prokofiev’s War and Peace, which was held in the 1,547 seat new Opera Theatre.

World Famous Architect Jørn Utzon

Jørn Utzon was born on April 9, 1918 in Copenhagen, Denmark. His father was a naval architect, engineer and director of the local shipyard.  He attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1937, as his family interest in art. After graduating in 1942 with a Diploma in Architecture, he worked in Sweden until the end of World War II. In 1949 he received a grant that enabled him and his wife Lis to travel extensively in USA and Mexico. At that time he made contacts with some of the most influential architects and designers and he could study about Pyramids. Strongly attracted by the way the Mayans Pyramid built towards the sky to get closer to the God, he said that the time in Mexico was "One of the greatest architectural experiences in my life."

Utzon's ambition as a young designer was apparently unlimited. Ten years before he submitted his winning entry for the opera house in Sydney, Utzon had entered a competition in London to design a replacement for the Crystal Palace ,but he did not win. The Opera House was his first non-domestic project, but he had won six other domestic architectural competitions previously. 

He had designed many famous land mark buildings allover the world. Among them  Bagsvaerd Church in Copenhagen and the National Assembly Building in Kuwait are highlighted. He made important contributions to housing design, especially with his Kingo Houses near Helsingoer too.

When The Sydney Opera House was declared a World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007, Utzon became only the second person to have received such recognition for one of his works during his lifetime.

Utzon died in Copenhagen on 29 November 2008, of a heart attack in his sleep after a series of operations in aged 90.

Do you know the amazing Danish architect Jørn Utzon never returned to Australia to see the completed Opera House in person, as he vowed never to returned though he did won a Pritzker Prize in 2003 in light of his achievements. The tale of the Opera House is one of breathtaking mastery while the Opera House remains Sydney’s best-known landmark today.

Opera House Tours

The Sydney Opera House welcomes roughly 1,200 visitors for tours each day -- some independently, others in large group outings. Taking a tour of this tremendous place is highly recommended and catering for all, the friendly staff members run tours in multiple languages, including English, French, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

All tours provide you with an opportunity to visit some of the Opera House's many venues and theatres. Tour of the Sydney Opera House gives you an insider's view on one of the world’s most famous performance venues, where more than 1,500 concerts, ballets, musicals, and plays are staged every year.

You are taken into all the performance halls, theaters, backstage areas, and hear about the history of the construction. But when a performance is there, you can't go to visit that hall. Tour guides are fantastic and very informative. They teach us about the acoustics of each hall, what the chairs are made of, flooring, ceiling, how many pipes the organ has in the big hall and fun facts as well as some interesting stories. They have 5 theatres, restaurant and bar. There is something going on here all the time.The opera house is a multipurpose performing arts facility. Its largest venue, the 2679-seat Concert Hall, is host to symphony concerts, choir performances and popular music shows.


The tour is about 1-2 hours. We really enjoyed the history. Can you believe!!! The opera House weighs more than the Harbor Bridge, to give you an idea of the concrete and expense. The inside of the Opera is stunning, with super acoustics. The largest hall is absolutely beautiful. The interior is even more amazing than the outside.

Please keep in mind the standard guided tour contains approximate 200 stairs. If you have limited mobility there is a daily 12:00pm access tour pre-booking is required and not wheelchair accessible.


You can get some good photos in there anyway so make sure you take your camera with you , all bags need to be checked before the tour but it's free and secure. To be sure just book a tour earlier in the day. Normally tour guide gives us a few minutes to enjoy the view of the harbour at regular intervals too.Well worth the tour to make your trip to Sydney a memorable one.

If you want to see the stage and the performing halls, then you will have to pay a fee but to see the buildings is free.

Splendid Design and Beauty of the Opera House

However if you don't want to take a tour then explore the beauty of The Opera House from outside. You can get some good views from the Harbour Bridge as well as from a harbour cruise and the Botanic Gardens and can get some good photos and see the beauty of it.


The roofs themselves are covered in 1 million Swedish ceramic tiles made to Utzon’s specifications. They appear to be bright white on a sunny day, but are actually two shades of light brown, the color of the cotton sails they are designed to emulate. The tiles are self cleaning, as any dirt or debris is washed away by each passing rain storm.

They actually change the color as the day goes on, mirroring the sky. In the evening, the opera house transforms, as if absorbing the reddish pinks and oranges of the sky.It looks almost like it's glowing at night. It's really amazing.Most of people think the rooftop is covered in cement and they don't realize that it is actually tiles that are reflective.

The Sydney Opera house assigned as one of the few heritage buildings in the world to win an award for its efficient use of energy in 2015. Maintaining a steady temperature is very important for the many musical instruments used in the Opera House. The cool interior during the tropical summer in achieved using a special cooling system installed underneath the building. This technology uses the sea water of Sydney Harbour. Most people do not realize that there in an unseen engineering miracle under the magnificent shells and sails of the Opera House.

There are no gutters on any of the roof sections. There are gaps in the concrete slabs that form the walkways around the buildings instead. Rain water shed by the roofs simply flows through those gaps to a drainage system constructed at the lower level and removes directly into Sydney harbor.

Today the Opera house attracts visitors from all over the world to admire the building itself and attend the extraordinary performances held within. Not just a place for opera, many types of events are held here including ballet, classical music recitals, theatre, popular concerts, cultural shows, exhibitions and many more.

Performance Venues of The Opera House

The Concert Hall

The Concert Hall is one of the world’s most recognized and celebrated venues, host to more than 1,800 events each year and maximum 2679 audience can be seated at once. Now it’s the big home for contemporary music and largest interior venue in the Opera House.The walls, stage  and auditorium floor are made of Australian brush box timber.The high vaulted ceiling and the seats consist of a shell of Australian white birch timber veneer.Audiences can sit around the stage as well as in front.

The world’s largest mechanical tracker-action pipe organ is the one of the most highlighted and precious things in the Concert Hall and can you believe,there’s only one person in the world who can tune it. Only authorized performers are allowed access to the organ loft area, and the instrument may not be tampered with in any way. 15m high,13m wide and 8m deep The Grand Organ designed and built by Ronald Sharp. It, contains 10,244pipes, 201pipe ranks,131speaking stops,five manuals and a pedal draw stop console.

Joan Sutherland Theatre

The Joan Sutherland Theatre is the second largest venue with seats for more than 1500 guests.Previously it was known as the Opera Theatre,the theatre was renamed in 2012 in honour of Australia’s most loved famous singer, Dame Joan Sutherland.

This theatre is mainly used for grand opera and classical ballet performances. It is used for contemporary dance, contemporary music, awards shows, circus, talks and film premieres as well.

Drama Theatre

Up to 544 guests can be seated in the Drama Theatre. There are 4 wheelchair positions, two each side at the rear of the auditorium. The Drama Theatre is located on the Ground floor in the north-western corner of the Opera House, below the Concert Hall. Mainly used to stage plays, contemporary dance and musical theatre.

Utzon Room

The Utzon Room is a glamorous venue for parties, corporate functions and small productions of all kinds and a very special place to perform.Seating just 200, the western wall is adorned with a vibrant tapestry of Utzon’s own design. Glorious timber finished floor and the natural lights from Sydney Harbour always remind everyone to the great architect Utzon. The ceiling with giant concrete beams and glass windows give a spectacular view of Sydney Harbour and the Botanical Garden.

Utzon Room


The Playhouse

Yallamundi Room

There are also the two external venues, the Forecourt and Northern Boardwalk

Explore around the Opera House

Really enjoyed the walk around the outside of the opera house with the great views over the harbour, the city background and of course the beautiful Opera House itself. There are many, many concrete steps to climb even outside.


There are free street performances from some of the Opera house performers if you are lucky. And you can see Australian aboriginal people around that area performing their cultural dance and playing musical instruments like 'Didgeridoo'.

We love walking around the area in the morning and as there are not many people around it is really quiet.There is a really nice restaurant there so you can enjoy a meal while overlooking the harbor. It attracts millions of local and international tourists every year.

No matter how many times I have seen and visited it, it wows me every time. No matter how many photos I have taken of it, I always want to take more. It's magic lasts forever. Its beautiful whether you see it from the ferry, from Sydney bridge or close up.

The entire opera house complex is truly spectacular and well worth a visit. One of the beautiful place to visit once in a life time with your friends or family. You will never forget that you have been there. The Opera House is more amazing in real life. 

You don't appreciate the true beauty of the building until you are standing there in front of it. Normally we sit on the steps for a few hours close to sunset just people watching and relaxing. Enormous architecture, it was such a joy to simply sit and gaze at the Opera from different angles, at different times of day specially at night. 

The award-winning Sydney Opera House in Australia is a globally-recognized architectural masterpiece. The place exudes something magical. The truly beautiful masterpiece is described on the Australian government's own website today as "an architectural icon of the 20th century".



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