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Sydney Opera House Guided Tour
- Behind-the-scenes tour: Experience a masterpiece of human creativity on a guided tour of theaters and foyers at the 20th-century's top architectural achievement.
- Architectural marvel: Learn the inspiration for the revolutionary design of this iconic landmark – and the challenges engineers had to overcome to build it.
- Unique opportunities: Capture photos from rare vantage points in this World Heritage building and discover the inner workings of a world-class arts center.
About This Sydney Tour
With its famous "sails," the Sydney Opera House seems it could skim gracefully across the harbor the moment a breeze comes up. Danish architect Jorn Utzon's revolutionary design was chosen over 232 other contestants in 1957. His sculptural, expressionistic shell-like structure broke most of the conventional rules of architecture – and it created an abundance of challenges.
The engineering challenges were some of the most difficult in the world, and the solutions changed modern building techniques. The complex geometries of the "sails" (also called "shells") took four years to figure out, introducing one of the earliest uses of computer-aided design to master such shapes. The Aussies broke ground for this building – and for the future of architecture.
The design was one also one of the first in the world to use a two-part epoxy to glue together the structure's precast elements. Heating and cooling such a massive building led to a physical plant design that harnessed the harbor water to create a water-cooled heat pump system, a first in mechanical engineering.
Construction challenges were just the beginning. Politics and money played big roles as cost overruns and scheduling delays caused serious differences between Utzon and the government. With his payments stopped, Utzon resigned in 1966. When Queen Elizabeth II opened the Opera House in 1973, Utzon wasn't invited or even mentioned once during the speeches. Although he was belatedly recognized in 2004, the architect of the 20th century's most significant building missed the opening party.
Don't let the name fool you
The name implies a single venue, but the Sydney Opera House is a multi-purpose site, presenting thousands of performances annually and hosting four resident companies. It's one of the world's liveliest arts centers, and not all great performances happen inside. In 1997, renowned urban climber, Alain Robert – the real-life "Spiderman" – scaled the Opera House using only his bare hands and feet, with no safety devices at all. Bravo.
Please make your way to the Sydney Opera House and the opera house "tour" check in area.
Take extra precautions to avoid too much exposure to the sun. Even on cloudy days, the UV is stronger than you may think.
Plan to walk for about two miles and climb about 200 steps. Tour is wheelchair accessible; folding wheelchairs only, please. If you have difficulty walking, this tour may be too challenging for you to enjoy and maintain the pace of the group.
Cultural, Walking Tour
English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, German
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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