The Sydney Opera House is one of the most striking buildings of the twentieth century.
The Opera House attracts more than 8.2 million visitors a year and contributes more than $1 billion to the Australian economy through tourism, hospitality and travel — plus, it supports more than 12,000 jobs. It holds more than 40 shows a week and conducts a variety of public tours, including a brief, one-hour walk-through, and an in-depth, four-hour backstage tour.
Here are some fun facts about the Sydney Opera House:
233 designs were submitted for the Opera House design competition held in 1956. Jørn Utzon was announced the winner, netting him all of $5,000 for his design.
The original estimated cost to build the Sydney Opera House was $7 million but it ended up costing $102 million.
Original estimates claimed it could be constructed in just four years. Work began in 1959 with ten thousand construction workers. It ended up taking 14 years of work before Queen Elizabeth II attended its grand opening in 1973.
The Opera House is 613 feet long and 377 feet wide — eight Boeing 747s could sit wing to wing on the site.
The “shells” that make up the roof of the Opera House sit on top of a heavy podium, which is believed to be the biggest pillar or column-free chamber in the world.
The highest roof shell of Sydney Opera House is 219 feet above sea level, the equivalent of a twenty-two story building.
There are seven performance venues at the Sydney Opera House: the Concert Hall, the Opera Theatre, the Playhouse, the Drama Theatre, the Studio, the Forecourt and the Utzon Room.
The Concert Hall Grand Organ took ten years to build and is the largest mechanical organ in the world, with 10,154 pipes.
Paul Robeson was the first person to perform at Sydney Opera House. In 1960, he climbed the scaffolding and sang Ol’ Man River to the construction workers as they ate their lunch.
The Playhouse was originally used as a cinema and, in the late 1970’s, it was a popular venue for surfing movies.
Arnold Schwarzenegger won his final Mr. Olympia bodybuilding title in the Concert Hall in 1980.
The Studio is a licensed venue and patrons can take alcohol into the theater.
The biggest crowd to ever attend a performance at Sydney Opera House was in 1996 for the Farewell to the World concert of the band Crowded House.
In May 2003, Sydney Opera House architect Jørn Utzon was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize – the Nobel Prize of the architectural community. Four generations of the Utzon family have been architects: Aage (Jørn’s father), Jørn, his son Jan, and Jan’s son Jeppe and daughter Kickan.