Sydney Opera House

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Sydney Opera House

The distinctive shells of the Sydney Opera House are beautifully illuminated at dusk.

Guy Vanderelst/PhotoLibrary/Getty Images

The newest landmark on the list, the Sydney Opera House was completed in 1973 after 16 years of work and is considered a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture. The performing arts center is easily Australia's best-known structure, thanks to the large, white-tiled shells that form the building's roof and the glass facades that face the Sydney Harbor [source: Australian Government].

Like many of the world's wonders at risk, the opera house's waterfront location leaves it at the mercy of climate-change threats. The building is just about 11 feet (3.5 meters) above sea level, and climate scientists fear that the nearly 600 piers propping it up could be damaged by rising salt water and storm surges, as well as higher air temperatures and humidity and extreme weather events [source: Battenbough].

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