Standing on the southern banks of Sydney Harbour, the great Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic urban landmarks in the world. Today, it draws in huge crowds of more than 1.2 million people each year, hosts thousands of performances between its eight separate theatres and studios, and hails as the home of the National Australian Ballet, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Opera alike. Since opening in 1973 it’s not only risen to become one of the most prolific arts centers on the globe, but also a symbol of Sydney and Australia as a whole.
Today, the Sydney Opera House hosts an eclectic range of events. There are world-renowned dance troupes, international ballet competitions, conferences on climate change and geo-politics, retrospective exhibitions on iconic pop culture figures like David Bowie, musicals, stand-up comics, indigenous Australian music, opera and more. Add to that a medley of festivals throughout the year, like the World Orchestras Program (attracting some of the finest orchestras and ensembles on the planet) and the thought-provoking Festival of Dangerous Ideas, along with regular rooftop yoga sessions, multilingual tours and sunset viewings, and it’s easy to see why this one’s considered the premier venue of New South Wales!
Located right in the heart of downtown Sydney, the Opera House is accessible on light rail that stops at Circular Quay, by car via Macquarie Street, by water taxi directly, and by foot within just minutes from The Rocks district. There’s on-site underground parking and limited concourse parking out front for disabled visitors.
The Sydney Opera House was designed by the revered Danish architect Jørn Utzon. Displaying all of his trademark nuances, it’s famed for its almost organic appearance, with ascending arches of white ceramic roofs unfolding above the historic streets and lively quaysides of The Rocks district.
Construction on the project took 14 years in total. The process challenged everyone from engineers to designers, and was one of the first instances of computers being used in modern civil engineering. The creation of the interior Concert Hall and organ rooms even caused Utzon himself to resign from his position as project manager, and controversy ensued as to the capacity of the great interior showrooms, the function of the ancillary theatres and more. Later, Utzon was honoured with the Pritzker Prize and became one of only two living architects to see their work tagged a UNESCO World Heritage Site during their lifetime.