Happy Birthday to one of Australia’s most iconic buildings. In honour of the Sydney Opera House’s 44th birthday National Geographic has curated a list of facts you may not know about the iconic building.
1. The Opera House was built on Bennelong Point, famously named after Woollarawarre Bennelong. Bennelong was the first Indigenous Australian to visit and return from Europe. He was taken from his home at around 25 years old and taken to Sydney Cove. He learnt English and became Governor Philip.’s interpreter
2. The Sydney Opera House was estimated to cost around 7 million dollars, however the end product ended up costing the State Lottery a whopping 102 million dollars.
3. A contest was held in 1956 to decide who would design the Opera House.There were 233 entries. Jørn Utzon from Denmark eventually won the competition and was awarded 5000 pounds for the design.
4. The initial estimate for completion was four years. This was grossly underestimated as construction took around 14 years.
5. Paul Robeson was the first to perform in the Opera House. He climbed up the scaffolding and sang to the workers in 1960. His song of choice? Ol’ man River.
6. The roof has more than 1 million tiles on it. They cover around 1.62 hectares of the structure and were made in Sweden.
7. Seven A380s would fit, wing to wing on the Opera House site.
8. Whenever the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is playing in the Concert Hall the temperature has to be set to 22.5 degrees to make sure the instruments stay in tune.
9. Arnold Schwarzenegger competed and won his last Mr Olympia bodybuilding championship in 1980 in the concert hall.
10. The Opera House is cooled using the seawater from the harbour. Seawater is pumped through 35 kilometres worth of piping. The circulation is enough to power heating and air conditioning in the building.
Next time you’re walking around Circular Quay stare across at the giant, abstract Opera house and think about the hard work, the history and the excitement that lives within that white-sailed building.
Image: Sydney Opera House, National Geographic