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Sydney Opera House

    This unusual modern building is one of the most famous sights of Australia. The Opera House was built in Australia's oldest and biggest city, overlooking a natural deep-water harbor. It is surrounded on three sides by water and its roofs were specially designed to look like giant sails.

    In the early 1950s an international competition was held to design a new arts centre in Sydney. The site chosen was Bennelong Point, a narrow piece of land jutting out into the harbor.

    The winner was a Danish architect called Jorn Utzon. The judges thought that his entry was the most imaginative. It was inspired by sails in the harbor, and by Aztec and Maya temples. But his amazing construction was not easy to build.

    Work began on the foundations in 1959, and it took four years to complete the base of the building. Next came the most challenging part of the whole construction - the shell roof. Nothing like this had ever been built before.

    The shells that form the roof make this building different from any other in the world. They are made of over 2000 prefabricated concrete sections, held together by 350 kilometers of steel cable. The shells are covered with over a million ceramic tiles. The glossy white and buff-colored tiles create a pattern that glints in the sunlight.

    The builders disagreed on how to build the roof and the original design had to be adapted. In 1966 jorn Utzon resigned from the project. Four Australian architects took over, and the roof was finished a year later. It took another six years to make everything ready inside the building.

    The Sydney Opera House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October 1973. Inside the centre, there are four main performing halls. The largest is the Concert Hall, which seats over 2600 people. Above the Concert Hall, the tip of the largest shell towers 67 meters above the harbor. The Opera Theatre itself is smaller, with over 1500 seats. The other main halls are the Drama Theatre and the Playhouse.


    In the first 20 years after it opened, the Opera House was visited by 36 million people – over twice the population of Australia. More than 2500 performances are held there each year, of opera, pop concerts, play and other events.

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