Historic & Heritage Attractions in Bristol

While the Bristol of today is very much a modern European city, its history dates back thousands of years. This is visible from the eclectic mix of buildings lining the streets, some of which can be traced all the way back to the city’s origins in the 11th century. Bristol is also home to the world-famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, a fitting symbol for the city, which was originally named 'Brigstow,' meaning ‘the place at the bridge’ in Old English.

Maritime Bristol

Bristol is also very well-known for its rich maritime history, having been one of the UK’s major ports for hundreds of years, and home to the engineering marvel of The Floating Harbour. It was also once a shipbuilding hub, where renowned Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed and built the iron-hulled SS Great Britain between 1839 and 1843, which you can visit today in the very same dry dock in which it was born. You can find out more about Bristol’s maritime history at the nearby M Shed museum, based in a former goods shed on the Harbourside, or at The Underfall Yard Visitor Centre, which explains the workings and design of the Floating Harbour with interactive displays.

Bristol Architecture

Bristol is a melting pot of architecture through the ages, from the ruins of the Norman castle in Castle Park and the 18th century grandeur of the Old City, to the gothic masterpieces of Bristol Cathedral and St Mary Redcliffe. To the north of the city centre, a stroll around the quaint Georgian streets of Clifton and Redland is as picturesque as it is relaxing.

Bristol and its surrounding area is also a haven of Tudor history, with Thornbury Castle, Ashton Court Mansion and The Red Lodge Museum all fine examples of Tudor architecture. It’s perhaps for this reason why scenes for the 2015 BBC drama Wolf Hall, set in 1500s England, were filmed in the area!

Fans of fossils, rocks and other gems will love Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, where you can explore fascinating items discovered in nearby areas such as Mangotsfield and find out more about the natural history of the city and its surrounding area.

Historic Pubs

If you’re after an excuse to sample our delicious local craft beers, ales and ciders, try the Bristol Heritage Pub Crawl. The trail will take you to some of the city’s oldest pubs, including the 17th century Hatchet Inn and the Llandoger Trow, which is said to have inspired the fictional Admiral Benbow Inn in author Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island. You can also learn more about historic inns in the city centre on The Weird Bristol Pub Crawl.

Discover more of Bristol’s history and heritage with one of the many walking tours and self-guided audio tours available across the city.


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