Sydney, Australia is one of the world’s most famous cities when it comes to unique architecture and a variety of architectural styles within its city limits, as well as the surrounding area.
Some of Sydney’s most well-known structures are among the best known in Australia and a few are recognized as being some of the most famous buildings in the world.
Part of the city’s reputation for distinct architectural style comes from various architects and designers who created the Australian capital city’s magnificent structures.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 10 of the most famous buildings in Sydney and examine more closely the architects behind each work.
Famous Buildings in Sydney
1. Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is widely-recognized as one of the most iconic buildings in the world due to its incredibly distinct design. The building was intended to resemble a large sailing vessel that was either docked at the nearby port, or set upon the ocean near the city’s shores.
Designer Jørn Utzon worked to produce a building that would offer incredible beauty, while at the same time featuring certain elements that the city of Sydney was known for like its ports and shipping business.
The Sydney Opera House is a sprawling, connected set of halls and theaters that make up the building as a whole. Overall, these 7 different opera halls and theaters offer visitors a wide variety of different experiences from musical performance to ballet and others.
Construction on the project began in 1959 and crews worked for more than a decade before they finally finished the Sydney Opera House in 1974.
The massive structure is known as one of Australia’s most recognizable landmarks thanks to its many ‘sails’ which give the Sydney Opera House the appearance of a large sailing ship at sea.
This design is credited as the main reason why the Sydney Opera House has been recognized as one of the country’s most well-known National Heritage Sites, as well as many other distinctions from world organizations.
2. Sydney Harbor Bridge
Alongside the Sydney Opera House, locals to the capital city of Australia will likely argue that the next most famous structure is the Sydney Harbor Bridge. This large steel bridge is designed as one of the largest through arch bridges in the country.
It was designed by John Bradfield, as well as Dorman Long, a well-known steel company in the United Kingdom that later began developing bridges using their own steel material.
The Sydney Harbor Bridge has been affectionately nicknamed “The Coathanger ” by locals and others residing in and around the Sydney area due to its resemblance of an actual coat hanger.
It is also one of the oldest bridges in the city that’s still standing as construction on the Sydney Harbor Bridge began in 1923 and finally finished nearly a decade later in 1932.
Use of the Sydney Harbor Bridge ended with the construction of the Sydney Harbor Tunnel in 1992. However, the bridge still stands as a major tourist attraction and one that has been featured in numerous films, photographs and other works throughout the years since it was completed.
3. Queen Victoria Building
One of the most historically-rich buildings in Australia is the Queen Victoria Building, which sits in the heart of the city of Sydney’s business district.
The Queen Victoria Building was designed with a Romanesque revival style and it is one of the few-remaining structures that were done according to this style. The building was designed by acclaimed Scottish-born architect George McRae, who later moved to Australia and made a name for himself designing such structures.
The building sits on what was once the city library, as well as a marketplace that was constructed in the 1830’s. Construction on the Queen Victoria Building began in 1893 and the building was finished a few years later in 1898.
Today, the building is commonly referred to as “QVB,” which is an abbreviation of the official name.
It has been the subject of multiple renovation efforts over the years to restore and maintain the building’s original appearance and the aesthetic of the Queen Victoria Building is unlike any other building in the city of Sydney.
It was listed as a heritage-site according to the New South Wales Heritage Register and stands as a testament to the once-great style of architecture.
4. Sydney Tower Eye
Another one of the Australian capital city’s great buildings is the historic Sydney Tower, which is located in the heart of downtown Sydney.
Once built to serve as a major piece of communications infrastructure, the Sydney Tower was originally designed to function as a tower that would transmit television and radio signals to the greater Sydney area.
The tower was designed by Australian Architects Crone , which was known as Donald Crone and Associates at the time of its construction.
The building was planned in the early 1960’s and construction began in 1970. The tower portion of the Sydney Tower structure was started just five years later in 1975 and it would take six more years before it was fully completed and opened to the public.
Unlike many other towers scattered around the world’s largest cities, the Sydney Tower is designed to have office buildings below with a far-reaching tower on top of the structure.
In this tower portion is an observation deck known as the Sydney Tower Eye. This section of the tower is the one most frequently visited by tourists and others within Sydney. The Sydney Tower stands at a staggering 1,014 feet, which makes it the tallest structure in Sydney.
Today, the Sydney Tower Eye is one of the biggest attractions in city as it offers visitors a birds-eye-view of Australia’s capital.
5. St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney
St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney is located just a short distance from the Queen Victoria Building and is another very well-known building in the capital city of Australia.
This elaborately-decorated and designed cathedral is one of the Catholic Church’s most visited sites in Australia. It was designed by William Wardell, a prominent Scottish architect who emigrated to Australia and made a name for himself designing such structures across the country.
It is officially recognized by the Catholic Church as the Cathedral Church and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Mother of God and it serves as the church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.
St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney was built on the site of an earlier church that bore the same name. Construction began on the project in 1868, but the project was somewhat delayed by certain obstacles before finally being finished in 1877.
Today, St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney is one of the largest churches or cathedrals in Australia and is also one of the most well-known historical structures in the city. It is located next to Hyde Park and offers visitors a stunning view of the cathedral and its tower spires.
6. Anzac Memorial
One of the most famous war memorials in Australia is Sydney’s Anzac Memorial. Located in Hyde Park just a few hundred yards away from St Mary’s Cathedral, this memorial was meant to honor the memory of soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force who died during World War I.
Since that time, it has become a site that is used to honor veterans of all wars, as well as many other events and functions.
The Anzac Memorial was designed by Bruce Dellit and Rayner Hoff, two prominent architects in Australia at the time of its construction who were known for their work within the Art Deco style, as well as with certain other memorials.
Fundraising for the project began on the 25th of April, 1916, which was the one-year anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landing at Anzac Cove during the Battle of Gallipoli.
The memorial was finally finished in 1934 and it has since served as a major destination for veterans and anyone interested in Australian history, as well as Sydney’s historical sites.
7. Elizabeth Bay House
In addition to the historic sites that we’ve already mentioned, the Elizabeth Bay House is yet another one of Sydney’s great structures from an earlier era that is still standing today.
The house is situated on the southern shore of the Elizabeth Bay and was originally designed by notable Australian architects, John Verge and John Bibb.
Construction on the Elizabeth Bay House began in 1832 as workers installed the grotto and retaining walls that would surround much of the house. A few years later, the house would begin to be built in 1835 and it was finished just a few years afterward in 1839.
It has been deemed a heritage-site by local organizations in Sydney and it’s also recognized as one of the most historic sites in Australia’s capital.
The house was built according to the Colonial Regency style of architecture and crews have worked multiple times to restore and renovate parts of the structure in order to maintain the original appearance from the interior, as well as the exterior of the Elizabeth Bay House.
8. Rose Seidler House
One of the most well-known modernist-style architectural buildings in Sydney, Australia is also among the city’s most famous sites for those interested in architectural history.
The Rose Seidler House is located on the northern outskirts of Sydney and is a somewhat quaint residence that was done according to the style that was popular in the mid-20th century.
The Rose Seidler House was designed by notable Australian architect, Harry Seidler, who was known to have worked in the modernist style during his long, illustrious career.
The house was named for the mother of the architect credited with its design as the Rose Seidler House was intended to serve as a home for Seidler’s parents, Max and Rose Seidler.
Construction on the building began in 1948 and it only took two years to be finished and completed in 1950.
Today, the house no longer serves as a residence, but is instead used as a museum. It’s owned by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales and is called the Sydney Living Museum.
9. Vaucluse House
Another one of the Sydney’s famous buildings sits along the shores of Vaucluse Bay, which is located on the southeastern portion of the city’s harbor.
The Vaucluse House is another historic site that was done in an architectural style that is seldom witnessed in Sydney today, or any other part of the world.
Designed by William Charles Wentworth, the Vaucluse House would eventually be constructed under the supervision of Henry Browne Hayes and Wentworth himself.
Construction began in 1803 when the city of Sydney was only a fraction of the size and population that it has currently. Work moved on at a slow pace and the structure was finally completed in 1839.
The Vaucluse House is one of the only-remaining structures that was built according to the Gothic Revival architectural style which still stands today.
The quaint country home and estate now stands as a tourist attraction instead of an elegantly-designed home. Many visitors travel to the site to take in the historic look and feel of the Vaucluse House’s interior and exterior.
10. Dr Chau Chak Wing Building
Undoubtedly, one of the most well-known structures in Sydney is known as the Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building. This structure is one that is distinctly-designed and bordering on the surreal in terms of its style and appearance.
Designed by Frank Gehry, who is widely-recognized as one of the most notable sculptors, designers and architects in the world, the Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building is a major tourist attraction in Sydney today.
The building is known for its intricate design that was done using thousands of custom bricks, which were strategically-placed in order to provide support for the structure in a way that made it appear to be sloping or leaning in some portions.
Construction began in 2012 and the building, which is part of the University of Technology Sydney, was finished in 2014.