When we think about Melbourne, Australia in comparison to the rest of the world… it sure is a younger city. And, while one of the oldest buildings in Melbourne dates back to the 1800’s… it may sound ancient. Yet, in Europe… some of the oldest sites date back to mid-3000BC, for example.
Even so, there’s still some incredible buildings that you architecture enthusiasts will be in awe of… when you come to visit Melbourne.
Thus, in this We Drink Eat Travel blog… we’ll highlight 15 of the famous buildings in Melbourne city, that you should check out when here.
So, let’s kick off with this one…
If you’re in the central shopping hub of the CBD… then you can’t miss Melbourne’s GPO. This Neo-Renaissance style building was the former General Post Office… providing postal services to the community from the mid-19th Century.
Yet, in the early 1990’s… its function as a major post office would cease to operate. And, instead it underwent major renovation… to house retail stores, restaurants, and even events.
Even if you’re not a fan of shopping… you should take a peek inside the gigantic H&M store. The architecture inside is mind blowing and stunning…
Within this building complex is the busy Melbourne Central Station… as well as lots of shops, food outlets, accommodation, cinema and more. Yet, amongst all this entertainment, is an historical structure. And, that’s the Coop’s Shot Tower.
Dating back to 1889… it’s said to one of the last few towers of its type remaining in Australia, from the 19th Century. So, you can imagine when constructing the Melbourne Central building… they were SUPER cautious to not destroy this Shot Tower!
And, when you look up at the tower to the roof of the building, it’s a magnificent display of modern architecture… showcasing an ancient important landmark in Melbourne’s history.
Flinders Street Station
One of the most iconic buildings in Melbourne is Flinders Street Station.
The site dates back to the mid 1850’s, where Melbourne Terminus was built. Then, in the early 1900’s the building that you see today replaced it… to cope with increasing demand on the public transport system.
This landmark has the distinctive huge dome… atop of the main archway entrance and rows of multiple clocks. This bright and bold yellow iconic building… wraps around the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets.
And, while it’s Australia’s oldest train station… it still functions as a main hub for commuters today.
Now, diagonally opposite Flinders Street Railway Station is this…
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral takes a commanding position, in the Melbourne CBD. While the church was built in the late 1800’s with a Neo-Gothic style, by architect William Butterworth… there were no spires.
Thus, building of spires began in the 1920’s, from the designs by John Barr. And, if you look closely, you can see that the 3 spires are of different material and color… when you compare it to the original cathedral.
St Paul’s is one of the most busiest churches… with hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to the site each year.
And, while you can see how remarkable it looks on the outside… you must go inside and see how majestic it is…
The Royal Exhibition Building
Just outside the northern block of the Melbourne CBD… is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens.
It was built in 1879 to host its first major event… the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880, as part of the World Fair. And, like many of the iconic buildings in Melbourne… the Exhibition building still functions today with many events held here.
Now, as you explore this magnificent building… you must spend time relaxing in the beautiful Carlton Gardens that adjoins it.
And, it wouldn’t be surprising if you see wedding couples here… getting memorable photos and videos of their special day.
The Forum Theatre
Built in the 1920’s, as the name suggests… this building is an historic theatre and cinema. Yet, nowadays, this venue hosts shows and other events. And, what you should know is… the Forum is only for people who are over 18 years of age.
Also, one of the key things that makes this building stand… out is the interesting architectural style. It’s design inspiration is Moorish Revival… which stems from Islamic architecture, and it has a Gothic influence too.
So, in the photo you can see multiple minaret-type structures… as well as a featuring clock tower. It sure is different… when you compare it to the other architecture designs you see in this blog.
As you stroll through the Melbourne CBD, you’ll pass by many modern looking buildings. Yet, when you hit the intersection of Spring and Bourke Streets… you’ll witness the Parliament House, one of the oldest buildings in Melbourne.
It was built in the mid 1850’s, with stand-out features of the captivating sweeping steps… leading up to the rows of gigantic colonnades
And, while it does look grand, this building has a long history of different protesters… claiming the steps to wave their placards, chant, and even camp out there!
So, at the time when we were taking photos, it was no surprise that there was a man… yelling at the top of his voice, mocking political parties.
Shrine of Remembrance
The Shrine of Remembrance was officially opened the 1930’s… as a memorial for the Victorian soldiers who fought in World War I. Yet, its importance would magnify as it honors soldiers from other wars too. And, it hosts significant tributes such as at ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.
When looking at the building… it resembles the architecture of the Parthenon in Athens. And, while you’re there, you can enter and explore the Shrine for free.
For us, it was moving and our hearts felt heavy. Yet, when we walked up the stairs to the top, looking out onto Melbourne… it felt peaceful. Definitely a place you should visit when here.
Arts Centre Melbourne
Now, one of the most iconic buildings in Melbourne is the Art Centre… with its spire towering more than 160 metres, dominating the skyline.
The building is not that old in comparison, having been done in the 1980’s. And, much thought was put into the design of the spire too. If you look at the base of the spire… you can see phenomenal gold lattice work, which resembles a ballerina’s tutu.
At night time it truly is an impressive display… when the Art Centre spire lights up, showcasing vibrant colors against the black of the sky.
State Library Victoria
The State Library was built in the mid 1850’s, during the Gold Rush era. And, before opening… a decision was made that this library would be free to the public.
This would help to encourage people from all walks of life to visit… so that they could be inspired to learn and develop. And, within the library are of course books… as well as journals, manuscripts, audio compositions, and even artwork.
Plus, the oldest item within the State Library’s collection is a 4,000-year old clay tablet… that features cuneiform writing, stemming from the Middle East.
And, while you could spend hours in the library… on sunny days you’ll see lots of people flocking to the State Library. That’s so they can chill out in front on the lawn area, or take a seat to soak up the rays.
Manchester Unity Building
Now, when you’re wandering around Melbourne CBD… on the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets is the Manchester Unity Building.
Built in 1932 in a Gothic style… you can see the many terracotta tiles that were used in its construction. And, not only that… the slim design of each section alternating with the windows, makes it even more striking.
Did you know… that the site for this building was first bought for a tiny price of 35 Pounds? Imagine what the land value would be now… MILLIONS!
Now, opposite this is one of the historic and famous buildings in Melbourne…
Melbourne Town Hall
Built in the mid 1800’s, the Town Hall was built as a cultural and civic hub. Then, over time additions would be made to expand the building. And, this would include the Prince Alfred Tower, and the infamous Portico balcony… where stars such as the Beatles and Abba, would greet their adoring fans.
Plus, one of the impressive artefacts inside the Town Hall… is the grand organ with over 9,000 pipes. It came into fruition following a fire in the 1920’s.
Yet, in the 1990’s it was in need of major restoration. And, after years went by… it’s said that AUD $4.5 million was spent to refurbish the grand organ! Thank goodness it still works today. Otherwise all that money would have gone down the “pipes” for nothing.
Nowadays, the Town Hall hosts many events and functions… having various spaces to cater from 10 to up 2,000 guests.
Now, while it’s no longer the tallest building in Melbourne anymore… Eureka Tower is still a popular tourist attraction, as well as a home to many locals.
Construction of the building began in 2002. And, it took 4 years to complete this soaring, 300 metre structure.
The tower took its inspiration from the Eureka Stockade, one of the most significant rebellions in Australia’s history… which was during the Gold Rush era in the town of Ballarat.
And, the building highlights aspects during the event such as discovering gold… which is shown by the gold that glistens from top floors.
Plus, when you look closely there’s a strip of red flowing down the tower. And, it’s said that this was to signify the blood shed during the rebellion.
Now, one of the top reasons why visitors flock to this building… is to experience the Melbourne Skydeck.
Here, you can witness amazing 360-degree views over the city of Melbourne… and beyond. Plus, there are many other activities to keep you entertained while up there!
St Patrick’s Cathedral
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the Melbourne CBD, yet still see some incredible architecture… head on over to St Patrick’s Cathedral. You can find it near the rear of Parliament House.
This Gothic style cathedral was built in the mid-1800’s… and is said to be Melbourne’s biggest church. With its dark brickwork, in contrast with the lighter color of the spires and trimmings… it sure does bring about an imposing feeling.
Yet, make sure you step inside this cathedral. Years of time, effort and resources were spent… to restore the church to as close to its original state. And, once inside you’ll be in awe of how impressive it looks.
The Block Arcade
One of the most famous buildings in Melbourne is The Block Arcade. Whether you step inside from the Collins Street or Elizabeth Street entrances… once you enter, you’ll immediately feel as though you’ve stepped into a whole new world.
Have your breath taken away by the majestic beauty of the ornate archways… and decorative mosaic flooring. The stunning glass roof has elaborate cast iron detail… which is further highlighted by the intimate lighting, that showcases the building perfectly.
While there are many shops that you can explore in this beautiful arcade… one of the most popular attractions is the Hopetoun Tea Rooms. The opening of The Block Arcade was in 1892. And, the Hopetoun Tea Rooms was part of the opening way back then… is still standing and operating today.
We trust you’ve enjoyed this blog… exploring 15 of the most iconic buildings in Melbourne with us. There are so many more amazing buildings to see and discover… far too many for this travel blog!
And, while Melbourne is a younger city in comparison to other parts of the world… it still has many incredible architectural landmarks, from modern to ancient times.
Plus, one of the great things is, it’s easy to get to these buildings and other attractions… especially if you take advantage of the free, Melbourne city circle tram service.
Then, if you need a break from seeing all these magnificent landmarks… there are heaps of places in Melbourne to take a break.
Whether it’s in one of the beautiful parks, or the many eateries tucked away down laneways… or having some drinks along the waterfront. There’s something for everyone when in this vibrant, friendly and cultural city.
So, that’s why Melbourne has been on the top of the list multiple times… for being the most liveable city in the world. And, even though Melbourne is far away for many of you… we hope that in the near future, you’ll travel here to experience its wonders.
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