Queen Victoria Building
Whether you’re an architecture nerd, a history buff, a shopaholic or all three, the Queen Victoria Building (more commonly known as the QVB) in the heart of George Street’s retail precinct is sure to get your senses going.
Completed in 1893, the six year construction allowed the Government to provide employment to a slew of otherwise out-of-work craftsman struggling under a period of recession.
Despite the economic doom and gloom of the era, the QVB’s monumental scale and elaborate Romanesque architecture was intended as a symbol of confidence in the British Empire and a grandiose tribute to Queen Victoria. Her massive, enthroned bronze statues still stands out the front, on the corner of George and Druitt streets.
Taking up an entire city block, the QVB was originally a concert hall. It gradually transformed into what it is today – a fancy, three storey retail arcade home to over 200 outlets – restaurants, cafes and high-end shops including some of the most prestigious national and global fashion brands.
One of the CBD’s most enduring landmarks, the QVB was almost demolished after decades of neglect from the late 1950s, right up to its re-opening in 1986, after a $48 million cash injection from a Malaysian company saw the building restored to its former grandeur.
The QVB is worth a visit purely for its incredible architecture – no other historical building in Sydney matches it for sheer extravagance. The interiors were designed to resemble a Byzantine palace, with exquisite stained glass windows and a grand original 19th century staircase. From the ground floor you can look straight up into the interior of the enormous glass and copper central dome. There’s also a fantastic mechanical clock with a moving tableau displaying scenes of British royalty once every hour.