For the best shopping in Sydney visit the Queen Victoria Building or QVB, a beautiful landmark in the heart of Sydney. It’s rare to find a destination that fulfills the desires of shopaholics, architectural enthusiasts and history-buffs, but QVB gets it done!
The architecturally splendid building, constructed in the 1890’s, takes up an entire city block. It can be accessed by George, Market, York and Druitt Streets. It’s also easily accessed by train via underground walkway from the Town Hall Station.
A Rich History
The Queen Victoria Building was first constructed as a Municipal Market with a concert hall and warehouses for local artisans and service providers of the time. The building’s function changed throughout the years to accommodate the needs of the city, including a stint as a city library and offices for the city counsel. Sadly, this amazing building was left to fall into disrepair and it was nearly demolished in the 1950s.
Luckily for us, the 1980s brought restoration to the Queen Victoria Building and it became a mainstay in Sydney’s shopping culture. Recently, the building underwent another $48 million Australian dollar 6-year restoration that reflects its original design by faithfully restoring its arches, pillars, intricately titled floors, grand central dome and sculptures, while modernizing services for savvy shoppers.
Don’t miss these historical sights:
- The “Royal Clock” is located on the upper level of the southern half of the building. It’s very fun to watch as it activates on the hour with a trumpeting procession, revealing animated dioramas of English royal history through windows on both sides of the clock. Get a spot on the upper level to view the dioramas.
- The “Great Australian Clock” which includes 33 scenes from Australian history as an Aboriginal hunter circles the exterior of the clock continuously, representing the never-ending passage of time.
- The fully operational vintage lift (aka elevator) – beautiful and functional!
- The Queen’s letter is located on the top level near the main dome. In 1986, Queen Elizabeth II wrote a letter to the future Lord Mayor of Sydney. The sealed letter is to be opened and read aloud to the people of Sydney in 2085.
- A display replica of Queen Victoria and her jewels.
- The Tea Room on the top level offers traditional high tea in the original Grand Ballroom.
- Look up to catch all the glorious stained glass windows and splendid architecture of the building’s 21 domes.
- Look down to see the intricate tile work restored in 2009 on the lower levels.
You can explore the fascinating history of the QBV on a guided tour, running at 11:30 am on Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays from the QVB Concierge desk on the first floor.
With 6 levels of shops, cafes and restaurants spanning over a city block, you’re bound to find something you want at the QVB. In the bottom level, you’ll find Victoria’s Basement, a bargain discount store along with many food and convenience stores. As you make your way up to the top of the building, the stores get classier and more expensive. Find art, antiques, jewelry, fashion and fine gifts in the boutique shops on the upper levels.
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