Sydney Town Hall
In the middle of George Street, the city centre’s most bustling thoroughfare, Sydney Town Hall is one of the most immediately recognisable structures out of dozens of fine historic buildings that line Sydney’s original “high street”.
Town Hall was built between 1869 and 1889 on the site of Sydney’s most significant cemetery. Most of the bodies were moved out west to Rookwood Cemetery, but a few still remain buried beneath Town Hall today.
Built of Sydney sandstone in elaborate High Victorian style, the Town Hall’s crowning jewel is striking 55m high clocktower. Complete with a two-tonne bell which chimes out the quarter hours, for decades it made Town Hall the tallest structure in Sydney.
The magnificent vestibule features a colourful domed ceiling with a massive crystal chandelier and some of the earliest examples of Australian-made stained glass. The building’s Centennial Hall, once the largest concert hall in the world, is dominated by a grand 9000-pipe organ. Organ recitals are still regularly held in this magnificent venue, usually for free. Visit the official Sydney Town Hall website to check their schedule of concerts.
In Colonial times, the lavish interiors were used for official ceremonies, performances and major civic events. These days, the steps at the front of Town Hall are famous for being Sydney’s favourite outdoor meeting place.
Unless there’s an event taking place inside, members of the public can wander around the main vestibule for free. If you want to go further, you’ll need to take a guided tour. Tours are run by volunteers and take place most Tuesdays from 10:30am (be sure to be there around 10 minutes beforehand). Tours take around two hours to complete and a donation of $5 is requested.