The Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial dedicated to the men and women from Victoria, Australia who served in World War I, is on nearly every list of ‘Things To Do in Melbourne.’ For non-Australian and (self-proclaimed) non-museum people, it didn’t make our list of Things To Do until our history-loving friend, Vinny, came to Melbourne for a visit. We scheduled just enough time for the free guided tour – and completely underestimated the sight. In reality, the Shrine of Remembrance deserves a full afternoon to appreciate the symbolic architecture and browse the museum full of artifacts covering Australia’s military involvement since pre-Federation times.
Our tour guide, Ralph, was a straight-shooter who had served during World War II. Not only did he impart his knowledge of the past, but he included personal stories that we would have never otherwise heard. He led us through the Shrine Reserve, into the Sanctuary, below to the Crypt, through the Galleries of Remembrance and up to the rooftop terrace.
Shrine of Remembrance Reserve
The Reserve encompasses 32 acres of land on which monuments, fountains and trees commemorate the Victorians who have served. A monument to those who served in World War II, accompanied by an eternal flame and flags, stand at the front of the Shrine.
Shrine of Remembrance and Sanctuary
The Shrine was built between 1921 and 1934, mostly by Veterans who had returned from war. It occupies an elevated area within the Shrine Reserve with a grand pathway leading to the main entrance. Inside the pyramidal building is the Sanctuary. In the middle of the room is the Stone of Remembrance, a simple marker reading, “Greater love hath no man.”
On Remembrance Day, which is celebrated on November 11, a beam of sunlight filters through the glass roof and hits the word ‘love’ at exactly 11 a.m. to mark the day and time in 1918 that the war ended. (Every half hour, a simulated light moves across the plaque for visitors to see.) On the walls are the national flags and below them are handwritten books including the names of every Victorian who served abroad in World War I.
Shrine of Remembrance Crypt
Below the sanctuary is the crypt. Hanging from the walls are the ceremonial colors of each regiment. In the middle is the Father and Son sculpture, acknowledging the two generations that fought in the first and second World Wars.
Galleries of Remembrance
The Galleries of Remembrance and exhibitions include military artifacts from past wars and times of peace. The displays, grouped by conflict, are highlighted by personal memorabilia, such as letters and photographs. Uniforms, art work, and archaic artillery were also on display.
Shrine of Remembrance Terrace Rooftop
After being immersed in the history of Australia’s military, we ascended to the open air rooftop. In stark contrast to the brutalities of war, in front of us was Melbourne’s vibrant and beautiful skyline. The fresh perspective of the city was humbling.
For more information, go to the Shrine of Remembrance website.
We want to know: Have you visited the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!