Historic Sites to Visit in Sydney

Sydney is the oldest city in Australia and over the past couple of centuries has grown into a thriving modern metropolis. Even so, beneath the city’s shiny modern exterior you will find a collection of beautiful historic buildings and attractions that take you back in time to the Sydney of old. If you’re a history buff, you will thoroughly enjoy exploring Sydney’s historic sites. Here are some of the best historic sites to visit in Sydney.

Sydney Town Hall

Located right in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, it is hard to miss the striking Victorian style Town Hall that towers above George Street. This architecturally magnificent building was completed in 1889 and was the tallest building in Sydney for nearly a century. The tall clock tower dominates the view; however, an exploration of the building’s interior is also a must. A highlight is the Grand Organ which was installed only a year after the building’s completion, in 1890. The Town Hall building is within a walking distance from most Sydney CBD hotels and eateries.

St Andrews Cathedral

Located next to Town Hall is the stunning St Andrews Cathedral. This impressive Anglican church is built in the Gothic Revival style, consecrated in 1868, making it the oldest working cathedral in Australia. The cathedral is well worth checking out for its grand architecture and stained glass windows.

Queen Victoria Building

Just north of Town Hall, on George Street, the grandeur of the Queen Victoria Building dominates the view. This beautiful shopping mall was built in 1898 to employ masons and workers who were out of work due to the recession. What resulted was a stunning mall that contained specialty trades shops such as tailors and hairdressers, as well as cafes, a theatre and store rooms. Today, the mall is home to lots of high end brands and boutique shops.

Australian Museum

Located next to Hyde Park, the Australian Museum is the oldest museum in Australia. Founded in 1827, the museum is housed in an impressive building and contains many interesting pieces with a focus on natural history.

The Rocks

Located next to Circular Quay in Sydney Cove, the area known as The Rocks is the location of the first docks and warehouses in Sydney. It was once a rough place and considered a slum, thriving with dock workers and working class pubs, brothels and basic housing. The Rocks has a turbulent history and has undergone several transformations. Today, the Rocks is a cultural and historic precinct, home to lots of different historic buildings, warehouses, cafes and restaurants. The highlight is Cadman’s Cottage which, having been built in 1816, is the oldest residential building still standing in Australia. This little sandstone cottage is one of only a few buildings left in Sydney from the original colony. There is a lot of history to explore in The Rocks, all with beautiful views of Sydney Cove, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

Government House

The Royal Botanic Gardens is a historic site well worth visiting, but located within the gardens is the historic Government House. Completed in 1845, Government House is the official residence of the Governor of New South Wales, however it is open for you to visit and explore the grandeur of the residence which is filled with antiques and eloquence.

Fort Denison

Located right in the middle of Sydney Harbour, this tiny island fort has stood for over 160 years. The fort contains a tower, canons and a barracks which was built for the defence of Sydney Harbour. It was also used as an isolated prison for convicts. Today you can visit the island by ferry, learn about the history of the fort and enjoy a meal in a stunning setting.

St Mary’s Cathedral

Located next to Hyde Park, St Mary’s Cathedral is a stunning Catholic Cathedral built in the Gothic Revival style. The Cathedral was founded in 1821 but the original building was destroyed by fire in 1865 and the current cathedral wasn’t completed until 60 years later. The cathedral’s design was inspired by Notre Dame and is well worth checking out for its stunning gothic façade and interior.

Customs House

Located next to Circular Quay, Customs House dominates the area. This historic building, built in 1845, was once one of the most important buildings in Sydney as all people and goods entering the colony had to pass through here. The building is beautifully preserved and today houses exhibitions, restaurants and bars. The interior is stunning and well worth exploring.

Paddy’s Market

Located in Haymarket, near Chinatown, Paddy’s Market is possibly the oldest existing market in the country. The market has a lot of history and has existed in different forms, but has remained in the same site since 1834. The market still thrives with lots of stalls in an old building, while upstairs in Market City you can enjoy more great shopping at the outlet stores.

Sydney has a lot of history and there are lots of interesting sites to explore. These spots will take you back to the Sydney of old and to the origins of Australia.

Related post: Ten essential things to do in Australia
Image credits (under CCL): featureQueen Victoria BuildingSt Mary’s Cathedral




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