Shrine of Remembrance

St. Kilda Road, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne

Built 1927-34

Designed by Hudson and Wardrop

World War 2 Memorial Forecourt

Built 1950-54

Designed by Ernest E. Milston

Undercroft redevelopment

Built 2002-03

Designed by Ashton Raggat McDougall (ARM).


The Shrine of Remembrance, arguably Melbourne’s most important iconic public monument, which is located in Kings Domain, St Kilda Road, was originally built as a memorial to the men and women who served in World War 1.  It later became a monument for all Australians who have served in wars. It provides a place where Victorians can grieve and where they can honour and preserve the memories of loved ones lost in wars.


The Shrine is located on the southern continuation of Swanston Street as St Kilda Road and appears from a distance to sit on the central axis of Melbourne’s Hoddle grid. The central elevated site it sits on was chosen in 1922, so that the memorial could be visible from all around the city, its suburbs and bay.


The design of the Shrine resulted from a world-wide architectural competition, won by Victorian returned soldiers, Philip Hudson and James Wardrop. Their entry was influenced by details from classical Greek monuments like the Parthenon, with the cubic form stepped pyramid roof derived from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. 



Built from Tynong granite, the Shrine originally consisted only of the central structure surrounded by the ambulatory. The central structure or sanctuary contains the marble Stone of Remembrance, which has the engraved inscription “Greater love hath no man”.  Once a year, on Remembrance Day (November 11, 11:00 am), a ray of sunlight beaming through an aperture in the roof illuminates the word “Love” in the inscription.  Above marble columns in the sanctuary, we also find panels listing every unit of the Australian Imperial Force of World War 1.  Beneath the sanctuary lies the crypt, which contains a bronze statue of a soldier father and son.  The exterior of the structure has four buttress sculptural groups representing Justice, Sacrifice, Patriotism, Peace and Goodwill. In the pediments on top of the two porticoes, the northern one depicts the call to arms and the southern one, the homecoming.


The dedication ceremony for the Shrine of Remembrance was on Remembrance Day, 1934 and for many it was considered the crowning glory of Victoria and Melbourne’s Centenary celebrations.


In the 1950s the Shrine was expanded to commemorate those who died in World War 2.  The architect Ernest E Milston was declared the winner of a competition to design a memorial to World War 2 in 1950. A reflecting pool was removed to allow for the construction of the World War 2 Forecourt, which consists of a large expanse of stone in front of the Shrine’s north face in the shape of a giant cross. It also includes three flagpoles, the Eternal Flame and the World War 2 Memorial, which is a cenotaph 12.5 metres high. Inscriptions recording conflict from other wars following World War 2 were added to the foreground areas surrounding the Shrine. A Remembrance Garden was also constructed, beneath the western face, to honour those who served in post-World War 2 combat zones.


Additional work was undertaken in 2002. ARM’s designed redevelopment took advantage of the unused space under the Shrine, the undercroft (hollow artificial hill). The redevelopment consisted of construction of a visitor’s centre, administrative facilities and provision for improved access to the Shrine’s crypt through two new courtyards. The later additions were deemed necessary because many veterans found the stairs, in front of the original front entrance, difficult to climb.


Most recently in 2013, The Galleries of Remembrance project commenced, which will focus on further redevelopment of the Shrine’s undercroft space. This will lead to the construction of a southern extension beneath the hill doubling the size of the Visitor Centre, completed in 2003. 

Postcard of the Shrine’s Dedication Ceremony.


Viscount Melbourne's picture

Thanks for the great article Pete.

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Chris Peska's picture

Images of the Shrine Redevelopment can be found in post #57 in the forum thread below.

Observe. Design. Build. Live.

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