Martin Place

sights / Squares & plazas

Martin Place information

Location
Sydney , Australia
Getting there
Train: Martin Pl
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Studded with imposing edifices, long, lean Martin Place was closed to traffic in 1971, forming a terraced pedestrian mall complete with fountains and areas for public gatherings. It's the closest thing to a main civic square that Sydney has. In 2014 the Lindt cafe at 53 Martin Pl was the site of a 16-hour siege, ending in the death of two hostages and the gunman. At the time of writing, a permanent memorial to the victims was being planned.

As iconic in its time as the Opera House, GPO Sydney , built in 1874, is a beautiful colonnaded Victorian palazzo that was once Sydney’s General Post Office. It has since been gutted, stabbed with office towers and transformed into the Westin Sydney hotel, swanky shops, restaurants and bars. Inspired by Italian Renaissance palaces, architect James Barnet caused a minor fracas by basing the faces carved on the sandstone facade on local identities. Queen Victoria dominates the central white-marble statuary, surrounded by allegorical figures. Under a staircase in the basement there is a small historical display and a pipe housing the dribbling remnants of the Tank Stream.

Built in 1916, 12-storey 5 Martin Place was Australia’s first steel-framed ‘skyscraper’. At the time of writing, it was in the process of a major redevelopment, with a glass tower being grafted on to it.

A Commonwealth Bank branch has taken over the old State Savings Bank building: it’s a beaut example of interwar beaux-arts architecture, featuring green-marble Ionian columns and an enclosed brass-and-marble teller area.

Near the George St end of Martin Place you’ll find the Cenotaph , commemorating Australia’s war dead. Abutting Martin Place on George St is the former Commercial Banking Corporation of Sydney – an impressive marbled edifice, worth a look if you’re passing by.