The Sydney Opera House, Sydney

The Sydney Opera House has become, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney's best-known landmark and international symbol.

The base for the building was started in 1959 - years before the designs were finished. It took four years to design by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and by 1962 the designs were finalized and construction began. In total it took 14 years to build and was officially opened on the 20th of October 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II.

Utzon's radical 'sails' design stretched engineering knowledge to the limit and imposed some unfortunate limitations on its functions, largely because the government insisted it house four halls, not two as he had planned originally. It cannot, for instance, house a grand opera because its opera stage is too small.

The Sydney Opera House is nonetheless a fascinating building and heart of the city's cultural scene. It opened with a concert hall, an opera theatre, a drama theatre and a recital hall, as well as restaurants and bars. A fifth theatre was added within the structure in 1998.

Nearby Accommodation - There are a few hotels which have unequalled views of the Sydney Opera House. Hotels like the Park Hyatt, which is situated right on the harbour's edge. Others include the Quay Grand Suites Sydney, Shangri-La Hotel Sydney and The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.

The Sydney Opera House cost some $160 million to build and was paid for by the public who bought $10 tickets in a series of lotteries with a first prize of $1 million. Utzon became involved in a massive political row with the government and left before the building was finished.

In the year to June 1998 it attracted more than 1.4 million patrons. The Sydney Opera House conducts regular tours of the building daily, and walking paths lead back towards the city centre through the Botanic Gardens.

Sydney Opera House Sailing view of Opera House