Bristol is no longer the major port that it was, but it is now one of the UK’s most diverse and interesting cities. The harbourside area and the old City Docks is a great place to start discovering this exciting city. There are ferry trips around the harbour and along the river passing under the Clifton Suspension Bridge. You can take a trip on The Matthew, a replica of the ship that John Cabot sailed to Newfoundland on in 1497.
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In the harbour is the famous SS Great Britain designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-59) who was one of the great designers and architects of early Victorian England. The SS Great Britain was the world’s first iron, ocean-going, propeller-driven ship, when it was built and launched in Bristol in 1843 it was also the largest ship in the world. Brunel also designed Bristol’s Temple Meads railway station and the Clifton Suspension Bridge which crosses the Avon Gorge 245ft above the river.
Clifton with its Georgian houses, interesting shops and restaurants, its beautifully restored Lido and Bristol Zoo is one of Bristol’s most chic districts.
A short walk from the harbourside area is Bristol’s finest church, St Mary Redcliffe, a magnificent 14th C masterpiece of Gothic architecture that was described by Queen Elizabeth I as the ‘fairest parish church in England’. Bristol Cathedral is a handsome building and is one of the finest examples in the world of a ‘hall church’, the nave and the aisles being of the same height under one large roof. Bristol is also home to John Wesley’s Chapel, built in 1739 it is the oldest Methodist building in the world and is now a museum telling the story of John Wesley and his work.
Bristol is well known for its street markets and wide range of restaurants and cafes, it also has a reputation for producing some great beer, with over 15 independent breweries. St Nicholas’ markets is an 18th C shopping arcade with steel and glass arches that is home to a wide variety of stalls selling antiques, crafts and food. The Gloucester Road in Bristol is a busy vibrant area that is said to be the longest independent shopping street in Europe.
Bristol is a great city to start a tour of the West Country, Wales or the Cotswolds