Sydney Opera House
The centrepiece of Sydney's cultural activities is its Opera House. This amazing building stands on the harbour like a spectacular giant white shells. It stands on Bennelong Point at the very edge of the harbour. It is close to the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
In January 1956 the Government announced an international competition for the design of a "National Opera House". Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect was declared winner of the competition in 1957.
The construction of the Opera House begun in 1959. There were many difficulties during construction, it took almost 15 years to build and finally the Sydney Opera House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October 1973.
The Opera House consist of four main halls for performing arts, plus an exhibition hall, a reception room and a recording hall. The main chambers are the Concert Hall, Opera Theatre, Drama Theatre and cinema. There is also the Dennis Wolanski Library and archives for the performing arts. There are also restaurants, cafes and shops.
Hundreds of people tour the Opera House everyday, making it one of Sydney's most popular tourist attraction, as well as a leading cultural and arts venue. You can wonder round the forecourt of the Opera House, but for you to see the performance spaces you need to join a guided tour.
Sydney Opera House proudly sails into history
Sydney Opera House now a World Heritage Site
On 28 June 2007, The Sydney Opera House was formally recognised as one of the most outstanding places on Earth with its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Sydney Opera House is now listed alongside other universally treasured places such as the Taj Mahal, the ancient Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China and Acropolis.
It is 50 years since Utzon was announced as the competition winner (January 1957) and 33 years since Sydney Opera House was officially opened (October 1973). It is the youngest cultural site to ever be included on the World Heritage List.
The expert report by the International Council on Monuments and Sites to the World Heritage Committee states, "Sydney Opera House stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind."