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Australia’s busiest square

Federation Square was inaugurated in 2002 to celebrate the centennial of the Australian Federation. Located between the Central Business District (CBD) and Melbourne’s South Bank, the square is a tribute to the art and culture of the country. Its construction resulted in a true revival of downtown Melbourne, which continues even today.

Federation Square has become a popular destination for all kinds of gatherings, performances and festivals – more than 2,000 events a year take place here. A large permanent screen displays important football and tennis matches. During Melbourne's Fashion Week, images of high-heeled top models fill the screen.

Patio at Federation Square
Patio at Federation Square

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A controversial design

Before the square was built here, the area had been home to a fish market, a business centre and a marshalling yard. Tram rails separated the centre of the city from the banks of the Yarra River. Finally it was decided to hide the rails underground, below the large square. It sounds simple, but the whole venture turned out to be extremely complicated; it was the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the State of Victoria.

The construction, which eventually cost 295 million euro, began in 1998 and quickly became the topic of many heated public debates. Conservative residents reviled the design, while the international design community sung its praises. The opponents argued that the square would remain empty because of its location near the boring business centre. They were proven wrong: the activity on Federation Square has revitalized the entire downtown of Melbourne.

The rails have disappeared below the square
There is almost always something going on

Art and culture

In addition to eating and drinking in numerous cafés and restaurants, you can also visit the Ian Potter Centre which is dedicated to Australian art. Several galleries focus on the work of the Aboriginal people and the inhabitants of the islands in the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea. The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) displays moving images in all of its forms.

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The Australian Centre for the Moving Image

View on the map

Federation Square, Melbourne

Photo credits

  • There is almost always something going on: Bernhard Richter, Shutterstock
  • The Australian Centre for the Moving Image: eddixendersson, Flickr