The Historical Side of Melbourne and Its Architecture

Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia and the vibrant oasis of cultural charm. That charm is intertwined with the historical treasure of the colonnial city. Lying on the Yarra river it transfers the origins of Melbourne.

Melbourne touches the traces of Italian and Greek cultures and an impressive art shine. Australian Open is the glorious world of the most popular sport in Melbourne. The sport culture is pretty exquisite in the city.

Melbourne cherishes the Aboriginal people that gave life to the city. The Victorian architecture dominates in Melbourne and originates in the mid 19th century.

The large panorama of events takes place in Melbourne. Some of the most popular are The International Comedy Festival and The International Arts Festival.

See also: The Futuristic Architecture in Australia

The History of Melbourne

Melbourne developed from the Aboriginal area nestled near the river Yara. Melbourne is officially founded in 1835. The name derives from the British prime minister William Lamb as he originated from the village of Melbourne in Derbyshire. Previously it was known as Batmania, Bearbrass, Bareport and others.

During the 19th century Melbourne prospered economically thanks to the discovery of gold.

The Aboriginal Time

In the ancient time the Kulin people inhabitated Port Phillip and Yara Valley. These areas held the roots of today’s Melbourne. Kulin nation that lived here date back to 40 000 years old. Kulin people today descended into Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung people.

The rich culture of Kulin people dwells on a heritage walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Melbourne. The production of food involved the rich sources. The Kulin people made a good living by fishing, hunting and gathering.

See also: Australian Aboriginal People- Overview of Their Tradition and Culture

Arrival of European Settlers

George Bass was the first British sailor that entered the Australian mainland in 1797. He arrived through Bass Strait, the passage near Tasmania. Entering Port Phillip was the next step by John Murray in 1802.

Exploring the Port Phillip was the task of Charles Grimmes in 1803 under the wings of Cumberland ship. The city of Frankston was their arrival point, located 40 km south of Melbourne. The Maribyrnong River which stretches along the Port Phillip was the next destination.

The Port Phillip in Melbourne, the skyscrappers and boats
The Port Phillip in Melbourne, the skyscrappers and boats- Credit: Visitvictoria.com

James Flemming describes in his journal how the area is rich with good soil.

David Collins came further with the intention to establish a settlement at Port Phillip in 1803. Collins finally settled down at Tasmania in 1804. The waves near Sorrento town rejected his arrival.

The city of Portland became the oldest European settlement in 1834. Edward Henty merits this fact due to the illegal sheep-run.

See also: How European Colonization Affected the Aboriginal Australians

The Foundation of Melbourne

Melbourne was founded in 1835 but it’s questionable who’s meritable. Portland Bay became the final point of Edward Henty in Victoria. John Batman continued to explore the area and founded Port Phillip Association. Their aim was to officially mark the settlement at Melbourne. Batman signed a treaty with eight Wurundjeri members. Buying the land in Melbourne sealed the treaty.

Batman united the intentions with the new settler John Pascoe Fawkner. New South Wales government which had power in Australia later canceled the Batman’s Treaty. The governor Bourke visited Port Philip in March 1837 and named a new town Melbourne.

Melbourne’s economy in the 19th century burst around gold.

Victorian Architecture in Melbourne

Victorian architecture mostly feels the city, characterised by rich ornaments and bright colours. After the Second World War Victorian Heritage Register starts to function in 1974. Not appreciating its architecture enough was the main reason. Royal Exhibition Building, the General Post Office, the State Library of Victoria are the exquisite examples.

The Beautiful State Library of Victoria in Melbourne and its white columns
The Beautiful State Library of Victoria in Melbourne and its white columns- Credit: Archdaily.com

The Flinders Street Railway Station takes roots in 1854, today it’s a favourite meeting place of locals. The upper floors belong to the abandonded ballroom and gymnasium.

St. Paul’s Cathedral holds the ornate stained glass windows. Royal Exhibition Building from 1880 covers the elegant shine inside and outside. Originally it served the first international fair.

The colourful Venetian Gothic palace cherishes the lovely Victorian Collins Street. Block Arcade was opened in 1892. It’s a shopping centre and ressembles Galeria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan.

Parliament House, Princess Theatre or Hotel Windsor are the further examples.

Edwardian Style in Melbourne

Edwardian style rose at the beginning of the 20th century as the Neo-Baroque architecture. Flinders Street Station is the most recognizable example. After the competition James Fawcett won the decision to design it. Red brick with cement attracts with its soft vibes.

The Flinders Street Railway Station, view from the above
The Flinders Street Railway Station, view from the above- Credit: Archdaily.com

Edwardian style holds less ornaments, roofing shines with terracotta tiles or glvanized iron. Timber decor is pretty popular at the terraces. Stained glass windows enchant many houses.

Treasury Place hosts Commonweath offices where exquisite soft colours shine in the rhythm. Prahran Market touches the simple Edwardian charm. The City Baths welcomes the charming vibes of the red-brick style. It’s also the Queen Victoria Hospital of the same styl. Now it hosts Queen Victoria Women’s Centre.

Art Deco Style in Melbourne

Art Deco architecture appears in the early 20th century following the City Beautiful movement. It praises the urban planning with monumental marvel. At the beginnings, Art Deco was known as the Continental style.

The most notable shine of Art Deco belongs to the Manchester United Building intertwining with the Gothic Revival. It was constructed in 1932 following the design of the Tribune Tower in Chicago. Nowadays it covers the offices for general and cosmetic dentistry at all 10 levels. Level 11 is dedicated to the Manchester Unity Boardroom.

The towers of the Manchester United Building in Melbourne
The towers of the Manchester United Building in Melbourne- Credit: Theculturetrip.com

The Astor Theatre shines with the Art Deco interior through the decorative mirrors and wall lamps. Other Art Deco cinemas are The Rivoli, the Palace Theatre, Balwyn and the Sun Theatre.

Myer Emporium is the store building in the Art Deco style. Mitchell House is the commercial building in the simplified Art Deco version.

The Significant Monuments

The different historical events hold the touch of many monuments across Melbourne. The Shrine of Remembrance is the most famous one, located in Kings Domain. It’s a symbol of all Australians who served in the First World War. It ressembles the Parthenon of Athens celebrating the classical style. The main materials were local stones, particularly granodiorite, sandstone and black marble columns.

The Shrine of Remebrance and its columns
The Shrine of Remebrance and its columns- Credit: Family-getaways-melbourne.com

Federation Square gathers artistic and cultural events above busy railway lines. The open-air square shapes the U letter and covers major cultural institutions. These are Ian Potter Centre, Australian Centre For The Moving Image and Koorie Heritage Trust. Many cafes and bars follow the ambience.

Several famous monuments in Melbourne were destroyed by fire. The suburb St. Kilda held the dance hall Palais de Dance. The St. Kilda Sea Baths existed from 1860 till 1993.

Town Halls of Melbourne

The town halls are scattered along the each municipality in Melbourne. The central municipal building is the oldest town hall in Melbourne, dating back in 1887. It takes place at the corner of Swanston and Collins Street. The iconic local architect Joseph Reed made the design in the Second Empire style or Napoleon III style. Prince Alfred’s Tower marvelously frames the building. The splendid concert organ glorifies the Main Auditorium.

The Central Town Hall in Melbourne
The Central Town Hall in Melbourne- Credit: Whatson.melbourne.vic.gov.au

The South Melbourne Town Hall is the ancient shine of the 1879. It represents the Victorian classical style with very tall clock tower. Included in the Victorian Heritage Register confirms its cultural significance. Multicultural Arts Victoria takes place in the Hall with the bunch of artistic events.

Lanes and Arcades

Numerous lanes and arcades represent Melbourne and give its cultural identity. The narrow streets cover the charming spirit of street art and Victorian era. The urban planning from 1837 or Hoddle Grid put the seeds. The main reason was to enable passages to horses and carts. More than hundred lanes hold the attractive caffe and bars.

Little Lonsdale in Melbourne gives meaning to the lanes and arcades representing the gold-rush era. The criminal world connects the lanes with the Little Lonsdale. Centre Place and Degraves Lane are the most popular lanes.

Cathedral Arcade covers the art deco style in the shopping world decorated with glass domes.

The elegant arcades notably include Block Place and Royal Arcade.

The Royal Arcade in Melbourne
The Royal Arcade in Melbourne, popular shopping centre- Credit: Thousandwonders.net

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival or Laneway began in 2004 as an indie musical event. The lanes giving honour to singers and bands are ACDC Lane and Amphlett Lane.

The Bridges in Melbourne

Yara river unveils the magic of the lovely bridges in Melbourne. The longest bridge in Australia is Bolte Bridge, constructed from 1996 till 1999. Covering only 490 m it actually connects 5 km of roadway. It links Victoria Harbour in Docklands with the Melbourne Central Business District. The silver towers in the middle rise to 140 m. The bridge got name thanks to the Victoria’s 38 Premier, Henry Bolte.

The Bolte Bridge in Melbourne at the night time
The Bolte Bridge in Melbourne at the night time- Credit: Pharoscontrols.com

Princess Bridge from 1888 connects the central city from the south. It’s included in the Victorian Heritage Register being on the oldest river crossing in the city. Princess Bridge glorifies many events in Melbourne such as Moomba Festival or New Year’s Eve.

Ewan Walker Bridge holds the lovely design and newest date in 1992.

Queen’s Bridge dates back in 1889 listed in the Victoria Heritage Register.

The Morell Bridge is the first bridge built in concrete with exquisite dragon design.

Old Melbourne Gaol

Old Melbourne Gaol is one of the oldest buildings in the city dating back to the 1800s. Once a jail treating the most infamous criminals, now it’s a museum. The bluestone covers the interior and courtyard reflecting the dark destiny. It takes place on Russell Street next to the old city Police Watch House.

The former jail Old Melbourne Gaol, the collage image
The former jail Old Melbourne Gaol, the collage image- Credit: Theculturetrip.com

Hanging was a common penalty including more than hundred people. It lacks the function of jail in 1924. The death masks picturesquely convey the stories of the criminals. The visitors can take the tours and first hand experiences.

The diaries of John Castieau unveil the daily life in the gaol. He was a governor in the gaol between 1869 and 1884.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral shines in the Neo-Gothic style, located across Flinders Street Station. The design belongs to the English architect William Butterfield. The spires earn the different designs covering the years from 1926 till 1932.

St. Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne
St. Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne- Credit: Weekendnotes.com

The historical meaning is intertwined in the location as the first public Christian service took place on the site in 1835. Joseph Reed finished the design in 1889.

The central spire or Moorhouse Spire cover 95 m. From the south St. Paul Cathedral is the tallest structure. The spires hold the darker colour than the rest of the building. It’s due to the Sydney sandstone which is 40 years newer.

St. Paul’s Cathedral supports the refugee rights and decarbonized future.

Kryal Castle

Kryal Castle lies about 1h outside of Melbourne at Leigh Creek near Dunnstown. In the medieval atmosphere the enticing allure belong to the hotel and theme park.

The medieval Kryal Castle near Melbourne
The medieval Kryal Castle near Melbourne- Credit: Kryalcastle.com.au

Opened in 1974, it gives glory to the picturesque location of the Mount Warrenheip. The castle got name due to its builder Keith Ryall. The drawbridge opens the charming place spiced up with the maze and armoury. The visitor can also see some martial games like jousting or learn about juggling.

The wedding and conferencing events join the magical palette of activities.

Old Treasury Building

Old Treasury Building is one of the most glorious examples of the 19th century. This elegant palace is the finest touch of the Renaissance revival architecture. It was a storehouse of the gold bullions.

The Old Treasury Building in Melbourne
The Old Treasury Building in Melbourne- Credit: Visitvictoria.com

Now it’s a museum of Melbourne history. A rare collection of historic documents also takes place here. It’s a place to learn about the gold era of Melbourne. The building was designed by young architect J.J.Clark, who was only 19 at the time.

Conclusion- The Historical Architecture of Melbourne

Melbourne allures with the hidden charm of historical allure. Victorian era left the elegant architecture with and bright colours. Flinders Street Station is one of the glorious examples, the oldest railway station in Australia.

Even the shopping ambience releases the gracious experience with its arcades. The famous lanes of Melbourne hold the cheerful spirit of urban life. The street art bursts with its unique invite. Caledonian Lane has been the locals’ favourite giving praise to the video games. It’s a birthplace of the international festival of St. Jerome’s.

Melbourne baths in the cultural blend that define its architecture. Even the ANZ Gothic Bank is the impressive structure. It’s one of the most unique banks in the world. Melbourne’s charming corners delight with elegant presence.

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