The Queen Victoria Building, known by locals as QVB, is a famous historical building in Sydney CBD that is home to a variety of boutique stores and cafes. It was completed in 1898 as a monument to Queen Victoria, and has an interesting history that has seen it ruined, almost demolished, and finally resorted to its original beauty.

Highlights

  • Shopping Experience – The Queen Victoria Building was originally intended to be a central marketplace, and that holds true today as the building is home to a variety of different shops. Enjoy a diverse shopping experience in the QVB, as well as top of the range services and amenities from eateries to restrooms.

  • Architectural Features – The Queen Victoria Building is a gorgeous example of the Romanesque Revival, considered by many to be on the scale of a cathedral. It has a number of architectural features worth keeping an eye out for. These include the building’s many domes (the biggest of which are clearly visible), beautiful windows on George Street (recently restored), the central mosaic area and two historical clocks: The Royal Clock and The Great Australian Clock.

  • Clocks – There are two clocks in the Queen Victoria Building, each of which has remarkable details missed by many visitors to the centre. Keep an eye out for the Royal Clock (which goes on the hour) and shows six English royalty scenes, paired with the trumpet voluntary of Jeremiah Clarke. Then there’s the Great Australian Clock, which shows 33 scenes from Australian history, as seen from both Aboriginal and European perspectives. You’ll notice the Aboriginal hunter circling the outside all the time, to represent the passage of time.

  • Outside the QVB – Make sure you have a look around the outside of the Queen Victoria Building, where you’ll see a number of statues and sculptures connected to the building. There is a bronze statue of Queen Victoria facing Town Hall in Bicentennial Plaza as well as a wishing well featuring a statue of the Queen’s favourite dog Islay.

  • Guided Tours – To get a more in-depth understanding of the Queen Victoria Building history and features, you can participate in a guided tour run by the concierge service on site for only $15. The concierge desk is near the centre dome on the ground floor and tours run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:30am for around 45 minutes.

Tip

  • The Tea Room – Although the Queen Victoria Building is home to some 200 shops, there is a lot more here than just shopping. Many people take time to look around the shops, and even the unique details of the building, but for a true historical experience you should visit the Tea Room. This cafe, located on the third floor in what was once the grand ballroom, serves traditional tea and is definitely worth seeing.

Transport

  • Train: The Town Hall train station is the closest to QVB and is accessible from the Lower Ground Floor of the building.
  • Bus: The QVB bus station is located behind the centre on York Street.
  • Car: 700 space car park accessible via York Street, includes valet parking, car wash and park assist services.

History

The Queen Victoria Building was designed by George McRae a Scottish architect who immigrated to Sydney. Dedicated to Queen Victoria, the building has had somewhat of a challenging history beginning with its construction in the middle of an early Sydney recession in 1893.

The Queen Victoria Building was opened in 1898 and contained a large marketplace, a concert hall (with room for 500 people) and a residential hotel called Coffee Palace. But as early as 1902 the City Council had begun to worry about the QVB being a non-paying asset, and the building was one vote away from being demolished when a 1913 decision was made to renovate it.

Again in 1959 it was threatened with demolition, and plans were in place to replace it with a fountain, plaza and car park. Luckily it was classified by the National Trust in 1974, and between 1984 and 1986 underwent an $86 million dollar restoration.

The building that you see now is the result of yet another $48 million dollar renovation that took place between 2008 and 2009, which was met with some criticism.

Interesting Facts

  • The extravagant Romanesque style of the building was specifically used to provide work to many craftsmen who were out of work, including stonemasons, plasterers and stained window artists.
  • The Queen Victoria Building occupies an entire city block.
  • The Great Australian Clock weighs four tonnes and is ten metres tall.
  • On the top level of the QVB, near the dome, there is a display containing a letter written by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986. It is to be opened in 2085 and read to the people of Sydney by the city’s mayor, but nobody knows what it contains.

9 Reviews

  1. lilyardenlao
    lilyardenlao
    Philippines 75 Comments
     -  27 Apr 2018

    Inspiring Architecture

    I’m not much of a shopper, but I love visiting this place everytime I’m in Sydney. It’s simply gorgeous! The tiles, the walls – even the toilets were fascinating. The design is magnificent. If you’re looking to do some architecture photography, you’ll never run out of things to photograph here. It can get crowded in the weekends though. But it’s still definitely worth a look around.

  2. Hannah Pigram
    Hannah Pigram 23 Comments
     -  05 Nov 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    This is one of the prettiest buildings in Sydney! Yes the shops are expensive but it is definitely worth going for a walk through each of the floors. If you love afternoon/high tea go to The Team Room, one of the best places I have been, especially with the girls.
    Make sure to book in advance and check out the different types of high tea available.

  3. Crissa
    Crissa
    Poland 17 Comments
     -  27 Sep 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    It’s a good place to visit if you have time, but… If you don’t have enough time – worth it. This place is very crowded during the all day long. There’s parking available (expensive) –> elegant, classic and beautiful interior.

  4. Mademoiselle_MM
    Mademoiselle_MM
    Yugoslavia 17 Comments
     -  21 Aug 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    Great place to visit!! It’s expensive to go shopping, but you can definitely enjoy pleasant atmosphere and great food. This is really authentic building, it will stay in your mind forever. I wish I had time to visit famous Tea Room, if I ever come back, I’ll visit it for sure! The decor of the inside is cute and unique, almost magical, as if you have come into a fairytale. 🙂

  5. Stefani
    Stefani
    Yugoslavia 14 Comments
     -  02 Jul 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    It was near our hotel, so we went there often for breakfast and coffee. The food excellent. We didn’t go shopping there because the shops are expensive but it was nice to see all that old architecture and have breakfast in a pleasant environment. For women boutiques are also a pleasant environment.

  6. Luh2sell
    Luh2sell
    United States 11 Comments
     -  14 Jun 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    Wow, the Queen Victoria Building is a stunning mainstay of the CBD! From the floors to the clock hanging on the ceiling, it is truly a masterpiece. It’s like stepping into a magical castle. The outside is not too shabby either. I found the shops a bit uninteresting, but it’s still a nice place to visit while in town!

  7. Javierj
    Javierj 29 Comments
     -  04 Jun 2017

    Excellent

    Great place, historical building just in the middle of the CBD. The architecture is extraordinary, with all the vitraux and the clocks. Sometimes it can get a bit too crowded and the corridors are a bit narrow, but it offers a great variety of shops, restaurants and chocolate shops.

  8. amandatanjy 19 Comments
     -  02 Jun 2017

    Excellent

    Quite a massive building located in the city. Would definitely say it has a very unique design compared to most of the other malls in Sydney. Since it is located in the city, it is definitely worth the visit. There are many shops located for you to browse as well, since the place is massive. Have fun!

  9. MarijaA
    MarijaA 10 Comments
     -  17 Mar 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    QVB is one of the most interesting spots in the city. It has that authentic look, while it offers a variety of shops and cafes to enjoy yourself. The best time of the year to visit is during Christmas. It’s “out of this world” magical!

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