Melbourne walking tour

A walking tour of Melbourne’s coolest architecture by Zofia Folkman

One of the many things that make Melbourne so engaging to walk around is its blend of modern, contemporary, and heritage architecture. You’ll see the grandeur of neoclassical theatres right next door to bold, fresh designs from some of today’s most talented architects. To enjoy this facet of Melbourne life, you don’t have to spend a penny. Simply look up to admire the diverse building styles around you, or pay a visit to some of Melbourne’s most exciting markets and art studios to see what’s happening in contemporary design. The following are a few of the city’s coolest buildings, well worth a wander by.

Saint Paul's Cathedral
Saint Paul’s Cathedral is so old it’s actually sepia-toned

Federation Square

Although it was constructed just over a decade ago in 2002, it’s hard to imagine Melbourne without its lively “Fed Square.” Designed by Lab Architecture Studio, this concept combines paved sandstone with a series of bold, geometric shapes constructed out of materials like zinc and concrete. It serves as an interesting communal space that is often home to free concerts, events, and guided tours. Some consider it to be the answer to Sydney’s Opera House, but only time will tell to see if Federation Square will eventually reach that iconic level. At the moment, it’s a good starting point for any Melbourne walking tour.

Saint Paul’s Cathedral

Melbourne is home to many gorgeous heritage buildings, including the Neo Gothic Saint Paul’s Cathedral, constructed in 1880. You can walk around the building to admire its elaborate stone carvings, before entering to enjoy the elegant stained glass and sculptures within. It’s best to sit down and soak in the quiet, respectful atmosphere to appreciate the building’s purpose and elegance.

Cathedral Arcade

If you love shopping, you won’t want to miss a wander around the Cathedral Arcade on Swanston Street. This art deco building still retains its stain glass window ceilings, along with old-fashioned elevators and a stunning foyer. It’s also home to a number of independent jewellers and artists’ studios, providing a glimpse into Melbourne’s thriving artisan culture. The Arcade is part of the Nicholas Building, built in the 1920’s.

Forum Theatre  

Topped with an impressive copper dome and clock tower, the historic Forum Theatre on Flinders Street is an example of the Victorian architecture that is located throughout Melbourne. It features minarets, showcasing hallmarks of the Moorish Revival. You can see further examples of this style and others on this list by looking at real estate Melbourne with Homesales for comparison. This sumptuous theatre was opened in 1929, and is decorated with a blue ceiling and stars as well as numerous reproductions of Greco-Roman statues.

Carlton Hotel

After a long day of walking around and gazing at all of these interesting buildings, you may be ready for a bite to eat or a posh cocktail. Pop into the Carlton Hotel on Bourke Street for a rest. The building was originally a seedy bar, but has been refurbished by Tracey Lester in truly surreal style, with no shortage of stuffed birds, chandeliers, and velvet. This colourful building now features several bars, restaurants, and artist studios.

There’s no better way to appreciate the diversity that Melbourne has to offer than by pounding the pavement and taking note of these landmark buildings, from old to new. Whether you prefer art deco or Tudor Gothic, you’ll find it in Melbourne.

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