Getting to Know Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance

Melbourne is a hub of culture, history, and charm, with plenty of landmark attractions to keep visitors busy for weeks. The Shrine of Remembrance is one of the most popular landmarks in the city, and can be found on the bustling stretch of St Kilda Road.

The shrine itself was built to commemorate all the men and women from Victoria who fought and served in some way in World War I. Today, the meaning of it has expanded to include all Australians that have served in a war. It remains an important site for the annual ANZAC Day celebrations and Remembrance Day, and it is still one of the largest war memorials in the entire country.

Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne

The Design of the Shrine

The Shrine of Remembrance was built by Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop, two architects who also fought in World War I. It has been built in a classical style, with inspiration drawn from the impressive Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus and the world-famous Parthenon in Athens.

At the top of it, there is a crowning element that harks back to the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates. The materials used to create it include Tynong granite, which has been used to erect each building block of the shrine that once just consisted of the central sanctuary.

When inside the Shrine, visitors can explore the sanctuary. The high-ceilinged interior is tucked away behind four tall classical-style pillars, and opens out into a basic but beautiful entabulature which boasts twelve relief panels carved by sculpture Lyndon Dadswell that show the armed services in action during World War I.

Right at the heart of the sanctuary, you’ll find the Stone of Remembrance, a marble stone that has been buried below the pavement so if visitors want to read the inscription they have to bow their heads low.

The Visitor Centre at the Shrine of Remembrance

Visitor Centre at Shrine of Remembrance

When approaching the Shrine of Remembrance, visitors are greeted by the picturesque Entrance Courtyard, which sits right next to the Garden Courtyard famed for its Legacy Olive Tree.

Inside the Visitor Centre, there is a gallery of medals that spans a 40-metre-long wall. There are currently about 4,000 different medals on display, each of which represents 100 Victorians who have served in a war. There is also a feature gallery where you can see the Victoria Cross that was awarded to Captain Robert Grieve during the Battle of Messiness in 1917.

Events Held at the Shrine of Remembrance

Talks

Flowers of War

This event is apart of the 2019 Radiant Pavilion festival. Which is celebrating the contemporary jewellery in Melbourne. Visitors can join in on a discussion with the gold and silversmith Kirsten Haydon, as well as communication designer Neal Haslem. Learning about their experience and skill within their chosen field. Their joint work of art, named Flowers of War, showcases many meanings and historic representations with their techniques and themes.

Garden’s Tour

Surrounding the Shrine of Remembrance is the blossoming field of greenery. The most important plant in this garden is the poppy, seen as the Remembrance Day ritual. It was one of the first plants to grow in the war battlefields of northern France and Belgium. Seen as a bright red token of hope, the poppies have been used ever since in honouring the fallen soldiers of the War. There are 62,000 handcrafted, red poppies on the southern side grounds of the Memorial. Representing all the Australians lost in the First World War.

Exhibitions

The Korean War

This exhibition showcases details and the origins of the Korean War from 1950 until 1953. Over 18,000 Australians fought in the war, with about three million causalities including 339 Australians. The exhibition offers the reason why Australia joined in on the battle, why neither side could ever win, and how the clash between North and South Korea remains unresolved to this day.

Gallery of Medals

The Gallery of Medals is a showcase of the hundreds of medals that have been awarded to thousands of Australian soldiers. It represents the service and sacrifice of Victorians, in both war and peacekeeping times, all the way back in 1899 until the present day. The gallery contains a panel of 44 service medals, all ranging in colours and shapes, ordered by their creation date. Each medal represents a time in Victoria past where the men and women of Victoria were awarded to military personnel of all ranks.

Services

Anzac Day

Anzac Day is one of the main holidays in the country, seen as an important day for all Australians. It is the time when everyone comes together to remember and recognise the past service and sacrifice of the Defence Force. The day was first originally meant to honour the Australian and New Zealand forces, as the date was when they landed on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. However, the gratitude has stretched out to present-day occurrences as well, remembering all Australian men and women who served and sacrificed in the name of peace. To honour them, the Shrine of Remembrance has a 5am service, as well as the entire country uniting for a minute of silence.

Monthly Memorial Service

Each month the Shrine of Remembrance holds a service focusing on the current wartime events. This is predominantly for schools, who are introduced to the story of the current historical event, enjoying the one-hour program led by a Shrine volunteer. The story will link with the symbolism and rituals of a Shrine Memorial Service, and finish with actual service of the tribute.

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