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Sydney: Lowdown on the landmarks

icon INTERACTIVE: PHOTOS
Australia Sydney -- a shining example of urban elegance. See what it has to offer.

Click for our PHOTO TOUR

June 25, 1999
Web posted at: 11:33 a.m. EDT (1533 GMT)

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Sydney is a beautiful and athletic city of more than 3.7 million people. And if you ask the mayor, it's those people who give Sydney its sparkle.

"The people of the city are very optimistic, very can-do. It's not an introspective city, it's an extroverted city," says Frank Sartor, Lord Mayor of Sydney.

Landmarks also help make Sydney unique. Several sites will probably figure prominently in the background of the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, such as the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney is hosting a film festival this week. Keep scrolling for an overview of the city's sights or click to CNN.com/Entertainment to find out what's showing in the up-and-coming movie mecca.

Sydney Opera House

Danish architect Jørn Utzon designed the Sydney Opera House complex -- built over a period of 14 years with money raised mostly by lotteries. Since its opening in 1973, it's been the site of performances of opera, ballet and theater in four distinct theaters of varying sizes. With some 3,000 performances each year seen by roughly two million people, it's considered one of the world's busiest performing arts centers.

Opera House click

Fort Dennison

In the early days when Australia was an English penal colony, convicts were placed in this building.

Fort Dennison click

Sydney Harbour Bridge

This fabled bridge is known as "the coat hanger," and while you can't hook your jacket to it, you can hike up your britches and take a guided climb across. "Crocodile Dundee" actor Paul Hogan once worked on this bridge as a rigger. The total length of Sydney Harbour Bridge is 1,149 meters (1,256 yards). The top of its arch is 130 meters (142 yards) above sea level.

Fort Dennison click

Bondi Beach

Many hard-working Sydney residents hit the beach, especially Bondi Beach, a favorite spot for surfers and swimmers. Australia's shoreline is so inviting -- and its "outback" interior is so barren -- that 90 percent of the population lives near the coast on just over two percent of the country's land mass.

Lifeguards are at Bondi Beach every day of the year. One of them, Harry Nightengale, says Sydney dwellers' comparatively well-to-do circumstances make it possible for them to enjoy this playground regularly. "They own enough money," Nightengale says, "and they keep themselves healthy to enjoy the lifestyle. Australians are a sporting people."

Fort Dennison click

Taronga Zoo

Animals native to no other continent can be seen at the Taronga Zoo: wallabies, kangaroos and, of course, koalas.

"These animals have developed the most phenomenal adaptations," says Mark Williams, Taronga Zoo spokesman. "They can turn off their reproductive processes at will. They can live on the diet, like the koalas do, of leaves -- which no one else can get any nutriment out of. These are incredible animals."

Fort Dennison click

Pubs

As for party animals, many species flock to Sydney's pubs, havens for danceable rock 'n' roll. Fridays are described as "big, messy nights" by local revelers. As in most cities, after a long week, people in Sydney just want to let their hair down.

Fort Dennison click

CNN Entertainment News Correspondent Paul Vercammen contributed to this report.




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