Local travel blogger Giulia goes on a unicorn hunt around Bristol...

Unicorns have been significant to Bristol ever since they first appeared on the city seal in 1569. They were chosen to represent virtue on Bristol’s coat of arms, where they feature at the two sides of the image of a golden ship leaving from a silver castle. Bristol’s coat of arms can be found on several buildings and bridges.

My favourite ones are on the front terrace of the Royal West of England Academy, a top-class contemporary art museum, and at the entrance of the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, the city museum where you can find a rich collection of art, nature and history.

One of the unicorns atop RWA in central Bristol - credit Giulia Blocal
Image - The gilt unicorn at the RWA by Giulia Blocal 

Perhaps the best-known unicorns in Bristol are the gilt ones facing each other from the top of City Hall on College Green. They weren’t part of the original decorative plan for the building; that's why they were welcomed in puzzlement until the architect came back from holiday and explained that they had been ordered as they were cheaper than the planned ridging.

The story goes that the architect placed them with their rears towards the house of someone he didn’t like!  

Unicorn on City Hall in central Bristol - credit Giulia Blocal
Image - One of the College Green Unicorns by Giulia Blocal 

There are various unicorns on Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world's first luxury cruise liner and the longest passenger ship in the world until 1854. See if you can spot the two on Bristol's coat of arms across the stern of the ship. 

Unicorns and city crest on Brunel's SS Great Britain - credit Giulia Blocal
Image - Gilt unicorns on Brunel's ss Great Britain by Giulia Blocal 

There is also a unicorn above the pulpit of St John on the Wall, the only church left of those built inside the city walls, serving both as the city's defenses and as places for travellers to pray before a journey. 

One more unicorn is hiding inside the 12th-century Bristol Cathedral among the exquisite carvings that characterize the stalls of the choir. 

Carved unicorn in Bristol Cathedral - credit Bristol Cathedral
Image - Carved wooden unicorn at Bristol Cathedral by Bristol Cathedral

About the author
Giulia Blocal is an Italian travel blogger falling in love with this beautiful town more and more everyday. 

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Unicorns on Brunel's SS Great Britain - credit Brunel's SS Great Britain
Image - Brunel's SS Great Britain