The Most Impressive Buildings in Melbourne
Monique La Terra

An assortment of architecturally remarkable buildings sprawl throughout Melbourne’s urban jungle and enrich the lives of Melburnians. From the French Renaissance train station to the neoclassical state library and the Moorish Revival theatre, here are some of the most impressive buildings in Melbourne.

1. Flinders Street Station

Building, Train Station

Nighttime at Flinders Street Station
© Philip Mallis / Flickr
Since 1854 Melburnians have been boarding trains at the corner of Swanston and Flinders Street; however, the building as we know it today didn’t open until 1909. Featuring a green dome, arched entrance and clock tower, Flinders Street Station was the first Australian city railway station, and by 1926 it had become the busiest passenger train station in the world.

State Library Victoria

Established in 1854, the State Library Victoria spreads across two acres and features seven reading rooms in which you can enjoy any of their more than 2 million titles. Two of the library’s most significant architectural aspects are La Trobe Reading Room and the Architectural Fragment, a sculpture just outside the library. Australia’s oldest public library is also home to numerous historical documents and artefacts, including the diaries of Melbourne founders John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, as well as the original armour worn by Victorian bushranger Ned Kelly.

State Library Victoria, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 03 8664 7000

State Library Victoria – right side

2. GPO Building


GPO Building
© Donaldytong/WikiCommons
The GPO Building was designed in 1859 by A.E. Johnson, and was once the heart of Melbourne’s postal service. Architecturally, the building blends classical design with French Second Empire influences and features Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns, as well as a clock tower. Today, the building is home to retailers and restaurants.

3. Shrine of Remembrance

Memorial, Shrine

Veterans and architects Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop designed the Shrine of Remembrance to honour Victorians who served in WWI. Additional memorials have since been added to the site to recognise veterans of subsequent wars. The Shrine holds more than 800 objects, photos, and uniforms dating from the 1850s to the present day, and commemorative events are held here on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.

4. Coop's Shot Tower


4. Coops Shot Tower

Preserved under The Glass Cone, Coop’s Shot Tower stands as something of a 50-meter time capsule, having been preserved and saved from demolition in 1973. The tower now sits amidst the retail hub that is Melbourne Central. Built in 1889, the tower has 327 steps leading to the top. It produced six tonnes of lead shot each week until 1961. Nowadays, there is a museum located on the second floor of the tower.

Melbourne Central Shopping Centre, La Trobe St. & Swanston St., Melbourne, VIC, Australia, +61 03 9922 1122

Melbourne Central Coop’s Shot Tower | © Kham Tran/WikiCommons

5. Royal Exhibition Building

Building, Museum, School

5. Royal Exhibition Building

Designed by architect Joseph Reed, the Royal Exhibition Building was built to host the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. Neighbouring the Melbourne Museum in Carlton Gardens, this World Heritage Site held the opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament of Australia and was used as a venue for the 1956 Olympics. In 1980, Princess Alexandra granted the building its royal title, and today the space holds events, exhibitions and school exams.

Royal Exhibition Building, 9 Nicholson St., Carlton VIC, Australia, + 61 03 9270 5000

Royal Exhibition Building | © Douglas P. Perkins/WikiCommons

6. Eureka Tower


Melbourne Skyline from Eureka tower
© Marco Saracco / Alamy Stock Photo
Standing at 297.3 meters, Eureka Tower is the tallest building in Melbourne and the second highest in Australia. In fact, when it first opened in October 2006, it was the tallest residential building in the world. Named after the Eureka Stockade rebellion of 1854, the modern building houses 556 apartments across 84 floors. For panoramic views of Melbourne, sightseers can visit Eureka Skydeck on the 88th floor.

7. Manchester Unity Building


Manchester Unity Building
© envasa/Pixabay
Inspired by Chicago’s Tribune Tower, Marcus Barlow designed the neo-Gothic Manchester Unity Building, which served as the headquarters for the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Built in 1932 during the Great Depression, the builders completed one of each of the 12 total floors every seven to 10 days. The building was the first in Melbourne to feature escalators and air conditioning.

8. Old Treasury Building

Building, Museum

8. Old Treasury Building

Designed by 19-year-old architect JJ Clark in 1857, the Old Treasury Building once held the fortunes acquired during the Victorian Gold Rush. Fashioned from bluestone and sandstone, the three-storey building is a primary example of Australian Renaissance Revival architecture. The building originally served as the home of the Treasury Department, but is now a museum with a number of permanent and rotating exhibitions.

Old Treasury Building, 20 Spring St., Melbourne VIC, Australia, +61 03 9651 2233

Old Treasury Building at dusk | © Nick-D/WikiCommons

9. National Gallery of Victoria

Art Gallery

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
© Peter Scholey / Alamy Stock Photo
With a permanent collection of more than 73,000 works of art housed at two sites, the National Gallery of Victoria is the oldest and most visited art gallery in Australia. Established in 1861, the gallery’s permanent collection features masters including Cézanne, Picasso, and Rembrandt, as well as celebrated Australian pieces, such as Tom Roberts’ Shearing the Rams. NGV also features the largest stained glass ceiling in the world, which measures 51 meters long and 15 meters wide.

10. Federation Square


Federation Square
© Jamie Wang / Flickr
One of the most controversial buildings in the city, Melburnians love to hate Federation Square. Completed in 2002, the complex was designed by Lab + Bates Smart and incorporates deconstructivist design with a modern minimalist style. Federation Square includes three public spaces, a variety of restaurants, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), the Ian Potter Centre, and the SBS Television and Radio Headquarters.

11. Forum Theatre


11. Forum Theatre

Formerly known as the State Theatre, this venue was the largest cinema in Australia when it opened in 1929 and had a seating capacity of 3,371 people. John Eberson designed the space as an atmospheric theatre with a Moorish Revival exterior and an interior ceiling that gives patrons the illusion of sitting under the Mediterranean night sky. These days, the Forum Theatre is used for concerts and events, including the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Forum Theatre, Flinders St. & Russel St., Melbourne VIC, Australia, + 61 03 9299 9860

Flinders Street – Forum Theatre | © Donaldytong/WikiCommons

12. Arts Centre Melbourne


Arts Centre Melbourne
© Travis / Flickr
Designed by architect Roy Grounds, the Arts Centre Melbourne comprises Hamer Hall, the State Theatre, the Playhouse, Fairfax Studio and several gallery spaces. The building officially opened in 1984 and features metal webbing and a signature spire that stretches 162 meters and is illuminated nightly.
landscape with balloons floating in the air


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