The iconic sail structure of the Sydney Opera House poised gracefully in Sydney Harbour is the image most synonymous with Australia's largest city. While you couldn't imagine Sydney Harbour without the Opera House now, it wasn't always smooth sailing for this famous site.
Designed by Danish architect Joern Utzon after winning an international competition, building began in 1959 but numerous delays and financial issues meant the four-year plan was not completed until 1973, while its head architect quit halfway through the project. Utzon and his son did return to finish renovations in 2004, but his death in 2008 meant Utzon didn't live to see the completed masterpiece. Renowned for its late-modern architectural style and stunning harbour locale, within the complex is a range of venues and facilities including the Concert Hall, Joan Sutherland Theatre, Drama Theatre, Playhouse, Studio, Utzon Room, forecourt amphitheatre with monumental steps and a recording studio.
And it's not just opera at the Opera House. The complex is home to seven resident artistic companies covering indigenous dance, theatre, opera, classical music and ballet. Each year the venue hosts over 3,000 events and has welcomed everyone from the Pope to Tenacious D to its auditoriums. The acoustics within the venue are magnificent and matched by the interior aesthetics. If you are not planning on attending the plethora of performances at the Opera House, you can also wander around or take a tour of the facilities. The two-hour Backstage Tour for over-12s is AU$155pp and offers VIP access to a range of venues with the complex and concludes with a breakfast in the Green Room. The one-hour essential tour goes inside the World Heritage site for AU$35 for adults and AU$24.50 for children aged 16 and under. Book online for slightly cheaper prices and to avoid missing out.
To visit, the most awe-inspiring way to see the exterior of the Sydney Opera House is from the ferry into Circular Quay or take a CityRail train and alight at Circular Quay Station. From the station it's a six-minute walk down Alfred Street into Macquarie Street.