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Travel info about the Sydney Opera House (in 2022)

An architectural icon of the 20th-century

Address

Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

GPS: -33.855951091706, 151.21601057782

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Travel info about the Sydney Opera House will show that it is located on the tip of a peninsula overlooking one of Australia’s most beautiful bays, the Sydney Opera House can be considered a masterpiece of contemporary architecture. The building, which stands in the middle of the bustling harbour of the New South Wales capital, was initially criticised for being too futuristic and confusing. Many of its critics would later acknowledge that the project had the merit of pushing the boundaries of modern human engineering in terms of structural design, artistic beauty and innovative construction methods.

The inspiration for the Sydney Opera House was the work of Jørn Oberg Utzon, a young, little-known Danish architect. Winner of the international competition launched by the State of New South Wales in 1955-1957, Utzon’s ambitious project was the winning proposal from the 233 entries from architects worldwide. The installation of a massive platform and the use of 67-metre-high geometric shells in the roof structure of the complex began shaping the new opera house on the Bennelong Point site, named after an ancient Australian Aboriginal. Terraces surround the opera house and are leisure areas – gardens, picnic spots and walkways. The Sydney Opera House was completed after 14 years of construction despite an out-of-control budget and missed deadlines. It was opened on 20 October 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II. Since then, the Sydney Opera House has greatly influenced 20th-century architecture.

The Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s most popular arts and cultural centres. Annually, it offers nearly 2,000 performances and events. Great operatic artists, orchestras, cabarets, ballets, plays, concerts, lectures, composers and performers take to the stage in this superb venue. Since 2017, all operatic house stages have been fitted with new acoustics. The architecture of the building has become symbolic of Sydney and a universal Australian landmark, much in the same way as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.

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  • The architect’s bold, innovative and visionary inspiration
  • The creative combination of engineering and design
  • The exceptional location of Sydney Harbour
  • The interior of the building is also worth a visit; the great mechanical opera organ in the concert hall
  • The Backstage Tour; the gardens and walking areas; the bars and restaurants
  • The roof of the building reflecting the sunlight; the opera house illuminations after dark
  • The Opera House’s diverse programming and acoustic qualities
  • The panoramic view from the Sydney Harbour Bridge (the largest metal arch bridge in the world); the surrounding coastal and urban landscape
  • The spectacular New Year’s Eve festivities; The annual Vivid Sydney Sound and Light Festival held in May and June for 3 weeks
  • The site of the opera house was a former military fort and tram depot before being chosen by the government as the Sydney Opera House site.
  • The architect Jørn Utzon drew inspiration for the structure of the Sydney Opera House from numerous buildings such as the Garnier Opera House in Paris and ancient archaeological sites. He withdrew from the project in 1966 following several controversies related to the cost of construction (estimated at $7 million but which ended up costing $100 million-plus) and the time required to complete the building (14 years, as opposed to the three years, initially planned). The foundation system alone, reinforced due to soft ground, consumed the entire initial budget. Work on the project continued for seven years after the Danish architect withdrew. Several people were critical that Utzon’s final stage of the construction – a multi-purpose auditorium – was overlooked.
  • The project was funded by a public lottery. The architect was not invited to the official opening ceremony and apparently never returned to Australia to view the opera house. Despite this, Australia issued an official apology to Jørn Utzon in 1998 and a concert hall now bears his name (The Utzon Room).
  • The Sydney Opera House has the largest mechanical organ in the world (over 10,000 pipes).
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger won the 1980 Mr Olympia professional bodybuilding competition in the Sydney Opera House concert hall.
  • In 2010, American visual photographer Spencer Tunick had 500 people pose naked on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.
  • In 2018, the building achieved carbon neutrality five years ahead of its target to commemorate the opera house’s 50th anniversary in 2023. It recycles 60% of its organic waste and turns it into energy.
  • The Concert Hall is one of the largest in the world with seating for an audience of 2,600. Since its construction, the Concert Hall has undergone extensive modernisation at a total cost of $150 million. New state-of-the-art technological innovations were implemented to improve the acoustic quality of performances. Access to the performance space for people with reduced mobility was also improved on several levels.
  • Each year, the Sydney Opera House employs a dozen sheepdogs to patrol the grounds and to chase away seagulls that can cause damage to the building.
  • At the end of your visit, take the walking paths to the Royal Sydney Botanic Gardens, which are free to enter and ideal for picnicking.
  • The Sydney Opera House broadcasts some of its performances and artistic productions on a free dedicated website.
  • Its programme of digital performances, renewed weekly, is available online. It includes performances, lectures, articles and behind-the-scenes reports.

Where to eat

  • The Fine Food Store
    (breakfast of choice)
  • The Glenmore
    (trendy pub)
  • The Spice Room
    (delicious Indian food)

Where to go

  • Circular Quay
    (tourist attraction)
  • The Rocks
    (Sydney's oldest district)
  • State Library of New South Wales
    (reference library)

Where to stay

  • Sydney Harbour YHA
    (hostel with panoramic views)
  • The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel
    (beautiful historic building)
  • Park Hyatt Sydney
    (idyllic location)

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