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Sydney Opera House

Just about every democracy in the world has at least one symbol that is instantly recognizable by anyone living in another democracy. For Australia that symbol is the Sydney Opera House.  And because it is so instantly recognizable I probably don’t have to describe what it looks like.  Anyway, here are some interesting facts about this unique piece of architecture.

Firstly, it is the busiest performing arts center in the world. Since it first opened in 1973 it has been host to millions of patrons and it continually attracts the most high profile acts every year.

People are often surprised that what lies beneath the giant white shell is not just one cavernous hall, but a series of rooms, halls and small theatres that can play host to several different acts in one day..

In an average year, the Sydney Opera House presents theatre, musicals, opera, contemporary dance, ballet, every form of music from symphony concerts to jazz as well as exhibitions and films. It averages around 3,000 events each year with audiences totaling up to two million. In addition, approximately 200,000 people take a guided tour of the complex each year. The Opera House operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year except Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Before the Sydney Opera House was built the city had no venue dedicated to higher forms of entertainment. After the Second World War Australia had established itself as a country that was independent and mature.  As a result the Labour government of the time, was actively looking for a symbol that could articulate this to the world.

It took a while, but eventually the government after years of stalling decided on the Opera House.  The only problem after that was how it was going to be built. A fund was established in hopes of raising the money privately.  This failed miserably.

When it became obvious that the fund would not even raise the $7 million the Opera House was first estimated to cost, the government introduced the Opera House Lotteries. (Gambling, what a truly Australian idea) The original appeal fund raised about $900,000 and the rest of the $102 million that the Opera House ended up costing came from the profits of the lottery. The building was completely paid for by July 1975.

Some quick Facts About The Sydney Opera House

There are 100 rooms

The building covers 1.8 hectares

It is 611 ft long

380 ft wide

221 ft. above sea level

The entire building weighs 161,000 tons

The power supply is equivalent to the needs of 25,000 people

The entire building is air-conditioned