Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria, is a city full of contrasts. This city is the most important center of the country in terms of culture, and with almost five million inhabitants in 2019 it is second only to Sydney by population. The city has a sophisticated lifestyle, a sparkling nightlife, excellent shopping opportunities, and a great offer of sporting activities.
Founded in 1835, Melbourne experienced a remarkable development during the gold rush period, from 1901 to 1927 it was the capital of Australia. Melbourne is a fascinating city where splendid Victorian buildings alternate with modern skyscrapers. On the southern bank of the Yarra River lies the cultural heart of the city.
Here are the State Theater, the Victorian Arts Center, and the National Gallery of Victoria, the most important and oldest art gallery in Australia, where a large collection of objects on Australian Aboriginal culture is exhibited.
The city also has a building and a garden that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Royal Exhibition Building – designed by the architect Joseph Reed in the late 19th century – and the Carlton Gardens (Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens).
A CITY RICH IN CULTURAL EVENTS
Melbourne hosts a wide variety of cultural events and festivals of all kinds. Theatrical performances, concerts of classical music, rock and jazz music, cabaret shows and comedies are presented. The Australian Ballet has its headquarters in Melbourne.
Events such as the Melbourne International Arts Festival are held in the city, dedicated to dance, theater, music, visual and multimedia arts. The Melbourne International Film Festival. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival – which is the third largest international comedy festival in the world and the largest cultural event in Australia – and the Melbourne Fringe Festival, dedicated to alternative art.
GREAT SHOPPING OPPORTUNITIES
Melbourne is also a popular shopping center. Here is Australia’s largest and most modern shopping center, the Melbourne Central Shopping Center. In the city there is also the historic Queen Victoria Market, the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere. Today the market is an important tourist destination in the city, which offers a large variety of fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, fish, delicacies and local specialties. Melbourne also hosts a large non-food market, where clothing, shoes, jewelry and handicrafts are on sale.
For lovers of good food, the Southgate Center, along the Yarra River, offers a large number of restaurants and wine bars. But there are many restaurants in the city that range from fastfoods to ethnic restaurants. There are also many Italian restaurants. In 2006 the inhabitants of Melbourne born in Italy (73,800) represented more than 2% of the population of the city. It may sound strange, but Italian was the second language spoken in Melbourne after English. According to the 2006 census, over 120,000 people spoke it. They represent the 3.3% of the resident population.
In the outskirts of the city, just a few hours’ drive away, you will find breathtaking landscapes, such as those of the Great Ocean Road, and of Dandenongs. Or like those of the Yarra Valley, famous for its wine, and of the Mornington Peninsula, full of beaches. Or finally of Phillip island, where you can admire the penguins, returning home every day at the same time, and the largest seal colony in Australia.