Fascinating facts on the Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House in Australia

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When we visited the Sydney Opera House, its beauty and uniqueness really impressed us. We loved it so much that we went in search of all the information and cool facts on the Sydney Opera House that we could find!

We ended up discovering so many interesting things that we had to turn it into a complete blog post with 10 curious facts about the Opera House! Knowing these facts before visiting definitely enhances the whole travel experience. And, for you that is travelling to Sydney soon, here are our pro-tips for places to enjoy a wonderful view of the Opera House!

Best views of the Sydney Opera House

Fernanda and the Sydney Opera House in the background
View from the other side of the harbour
  • For adventure seekers: we recommend two very cool activities that you can do both at sunset or at sunrise: kayaking at the Sydney Harbour or climbing the Harbour Bridge.
  • At a happy hour: The Glenmore is a cosy and chilled-out bar offering a beautiful view of the Opera House at sunset.
  • With sophistication: the most spectacular view we saw of the Sydney Opera House was from the Blu Bar on 36, at the Shangri-la Hotel. Grabbing a table at sunset is a must. And if money is not an issue, why not stay there too so you can enjoy the view of the Opera House at any time you want?!

By the way, if you are organising your trip to Australia, make sure to read our Trip Checklist Page, our best travel resources to help to plan and save money on your trip. And to ensure you won’t miss any great content such as this, ensure to subscribe to our newsletter (you’ll see it’s no spamming, made by us without automation in the creative process).

10 Cool Facts on the Sydney Opera House

Overview of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour

1 – A Construction Saga

The construction of the Sydney Opera House was nothing short of epic. It was originally planned to be completed in just four years. But the project ended up stretching over 14 long years before reaching its grand finale in 1973. This significant delay and extensive timeline underscore the complexity of bringing this architectural marvel to life.

Fernanda sitting in front of the Sydney Opera House on the other side of the canal
View from the other side of the harbour

2 – Budgetary Overshoot

Budget overruns are not uncommon in major construction projects, but the Sydney Opera House’s case takes the cake. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the initial cost estimate was a modest $7 million. However, by the time they complete the project, the bill had skyrocketed to a staggering $102 million. This astronomical cost overrun sparked heated debates at the time, making it a controversial fact in the Sydney Opera House.

3 – Mayan and Aztec as Sydney Opera House inspiration

The facade of the Sydney Opera House and a fascinating fact about its tiles

Jørn Utzon’s inspiration for the Opera House came from two of his greatest passions: history and nature. He was particularly fascinated by the culture and architectural style of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. This is actually reflected in the Opera House’s front steps, which were inspired by the temples Utzon in Mexico. How cool and unexpected is that?! We could never imagine the Mayan and Aztecs to be at the core of the Sydney Opera House inspiration.

4 – Sydney Opera House UNESCO

The Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. This recognition underscores the global cultural significance of the building and its impact on the world of art and architecture.

The Opera House is one of three other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sydney. The others include the Australian Convict Sites (Cockatoo Island, Hyde Park Barracks, Old Government House and The Great North Road) and the Greater Blue Mountains.

The Sydney Opera House in Australia
Hidden spot for a perfect view of the Sydney opera house

5 – A Mesmerizing Interior

Inside the Sydney Opera House is just as mesmerising as the outside! And that is a cool fact on the Sydney Opera House that not many people know about.

There are two ways for you to visit the interior rooms of the Opera House. You can do a guided tour or you can watch a life performance! We opted for the second one and absolutely loved it! We were lucky to be in Sydney when the Miss Saigon Musical was being performed. Then, we didn’t miss our chances and got tickets to it. It was the best experience ever attending a musical concert!

Whether it’s a musical, a play, or a concert, we really recommend you to attend it to have a complete artistic experience of the Opera House. 

6 – A Sea of Tiles

The roof with the thousand tiles, a cool fact on the Sydney Opera House
Details of the Sydney Opera House’s roof

Surely a fact about the Sydney Opera House we were not expecting at all is that its ceiling is adorned with TILES! And how many tiles are on the Sydney Opera House? Over a million white ceramic tiles that came all the way from Sweden! And they are now covering the roof of the Opera House.

The tiles not only contribute to the building’s aesthetics but also serve a practical purpose. They were purposely chose to maintain a comfortable temperature within.

7 – World-Class Acoustics

The Opera House’s Concert Hall is renowned worldwide for its exceptional acoustics. Among the largest in the world, it has become a favoured venue for opera singers, musicians and orchestras from across the globe. The precision in sound quality enhances the overall experience for both performers and audiences. It makes it an unrivalled destination for musical excellence. 

We were not surprised to find this as one of the facts on the Sydney Opera House. When we attended the Miss Saigon Musical the quality and powerfulness of the sound really stroked us as incredible.

The Sydney Opera House at night
Hidden spot for a perfect view of the Opera House

8 – Beyond Opera

While the Opera House was originally conceived as a venue for opera performances, it has evolved into a versatile cultural hub. Today, it hosts a wide range of events, including musicals, plays, concerts, and more. Its openness to diverse forms of artistic expression has solidified its place as a vibrant cultural centre, far exceeding its initial operatic focus.

9 – Three Distinct Structures

While many perceive the Sydney Opera House as a single cohesive building, it is, in fact, composed of three distinct structures. These are the Concert Hall, the Opera House itself, and a restaurant. Strolling around the premises, visitors can discern the unique character of each structure, adding depth to the Opera House’s architectural diversity.

10 – Harnessing Seawater for Climate Control

Fernanda looking back at the Sydney Opera House

A Sydney Opera House interesting fact that has a lot to do with sustainability is also ingenious. The whole internal heating and cooling system is powered by the seawater directly pumped from the harbour that surrounds it!

This sustainable approach reduces the building’s reliance on traditional HVAC systems, lowers energy consumption, and minimizes its environmental footprint. All while showcasing innovative eco-friendly design. Proper maintenance and water quality measures ensure the system’s longevity and performance, making it an environmentally conscious and cost-effective solution.


The Sydney Opera House seen from the river
View from the boat that takes you to Manly Beach

Far beyond these fun and interesting facts on the Sydney Opera House, this iconic landmark is a must-visit destination for anyone who gets the opportunity to travel to Sydney! Make sure to add it to your bucket list!

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