Beside St Kilda Rd stands the massive Shrine of Remembrance, built as a memorial to Victorians killed in WWI. It was built between 1928 and 1934, much of it with depression-relief, or ‘susso’, labour. Its bombastic classical design is partly based on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Visible from the other end of town, planning regulations continue to restrict any building that would obstruct the view of the shrine from Swanston St as far back as Lonsdale St.

Thousands attend the moving Anzac Day (25 April) dawn service, while the Remembrance Day service at 11am on 11 November commemorates the signing of the 1918 Armistice marking the formal end to WWI. At this precise moment a shaft of light shines through an opening in the ceiling, passing over the Stone of Remembrance and illuminating the word ‘love’; all other days this effect is demonstrated using artificial lighting on the hour. The forecourt, with its cenotaph and eternal flame (lit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1954), was built as a memorial to those who died in WWII, and there are several other specific memorials that surround the shrine. You'll get wonderful panoramic views from the shrine's upper balcony. Recently opened galleries downstairs serve as a museum, not to mention a stunningly conceived architectural space.

The complex is under 24-hour police guard; during opening hours the police are quaintly required to wear uniforms resembling those worn by WWI light-horsemen. Pick up the the self-guided tour brochure, or otherwise join the free guided tours daily at 11am and 2pm, often conducted by returned soldiers. The Galleries of Remembrance will open late 2014 for the Centenary of WWI, telling the story of Australians at war.