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For us, the Opera House is the heart of Sydney. We made our first pilgrimage to this icon by bus to Circular Quay, then a stroll toward the point where rounding a row of apartments, the Opera House is revealed in all its glory. On a sunny day the roof tiles create a dazzling reflection.

We walked all around the building, noticing that it is three separate rooftops, not a single one as it often appears in photos. From one spot it looks like three giant-sized Spanish conquistadors helmets.From another angle, it looks like a spaceport, with at least one spaceship ready to take off.Close up, the Opera House is a busy place. Tourists walk around taking photos, runners avoid them as they circle the Opera House on the path. Women in black dresses walk in and out. Either Sydney is a lot like New York or the dress code for staff is “wear black.”

From the Opera House you can see tiny figures of the groups climbing high up the sides of the Harbor Bay Bridge. We walked around the edge of the ferry docks into the neighborhood called “The Rocks.” It is full of shopping and restaurants, and a lot of stairs. We ended up in the park beneath the huge bridge where plaques explain the process by which the fort located on this point was demolished and the bridge built. From a distance the Opera House looks quiet and peaceful, a ship at its mooring.In this age of celebrity architects, we couldn’t name the designer of this marvel, Jørn Utzen. After winning the design competition, new construction techniques had to be invented in order to build his design, methods that made later more free-form works by Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid possible. Construction was both expensive and political and Utzon resigned from the project part way through. He never returned, not for the opening or to receive any of the awards offered to him by subsequent Australian governments. “If you like a person’s work, you don’t give them an award, you give them something to build.” There are a lot of stories there. Here are a few:

From the Sydney Opera House website