As the Middle Ages ebbed away, Bristol merchants and adventurers, pirates and privateers traded and tussled with Spain, Portugal, the Mediterranean and other enticing destinations. Cloth shipped out, wine and other exotica poured in—medieval cellars still exist beneath the city. In , with sponsorship from local merchants, John Cabot famously set sail aboard Matthew on a voyage of discovery and stumbled across Newfoundland. Indeed, Bristol is a bustling, even unruly, panorama of all sorts of architectural styles that vie to tell the story of their respective eras: from medieval, to Georgian and Victorian landmarks, to 21st-century developments.
Today, the mix of creativity, technological expertise and diversity on which the city prides itself has helped at least some of its ,plus population to weather the waves of recession. All around, the vast new office development that is Temple Quay draws a new city picture in glass, smart curves and bold lines. Then, for more of dynamic 21st-century Bristol, head for Cabot Circus. Even a nonshopaholic like me can admire its three-tiered splendor and shell-shaped glass roof, kept birdnest-free by a Harris hawk.
Street Style from Bristol Fashion Week
P erhaps the real spot to start an exploration of Bristol, however, is the historic harborside. You can walk to all the main sights. So the whole central harborside now reverberates to a trendy vibe of prestigious offices, bijou apartments, eateries and attractions. The highlight among the latter has to be SS Great Britain , at feet long the largest ship in the world when it was launched in , and the first screw-propelled, iron steamship to cross the Atlantic.
Its maiden trip from Liverpool to New York in took 14 days, 21 hours, and eager waiting crowds paid 25 cents a head to clamber aboard for a look; a further 12 cents permitted a peek at the engine room. After more than one million miles of seagoing life, and a famous salvage and restoration, she rests appropriately in the very dry dock where she was built.
Births and deaths of babies, toe-gnawing rats, the sight and noise of gaggles of animals being slaughtered for dinner—journeys were epic and not for the fainthearted. He embodied the Victorian spirit of progress and gave Bristol some of its most-recognized features. With his Great Western Railway terminus and ship ticked off the list, go for the hat trick by hopping onto a boat for a tour along the river to the Avon Gorge: His elegant suspension bridge, the foot link between the cliffs feet above, is as dramatic proof as any that creativity married to technology can produce beautiful offspring.
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Train journey times: Between 1 hour 20 minutes and 2 hours. Simply get on the M4, exit at junction 19, and follow the M32 into the city center. Also along harborside, Anchor and Millennium Squares come into their own in summer when street performers make the most of the generous space. A few steps away is the black-and-white 17th-century Llandoger Trow pub, so named after the sailing barges that once plied between Bristol and Wales.
Its outdoor seating often merges with that of The Old Duke opposite, where live jazz and blues shake the air every night of the week. Neighboring Queen Square, a fine vignette of Georgian architecture, is home to many businesses, and also where I was once offered a traineeship as an accountant. Dear reader, I opted for the penury of writing instead. This takes us across the river, to the parish church of St. Mary Redcliffe, semi-marooned amid a convergence of roads. It dates from the 12th century and was originally at the hub of shipping and industry: Merchants began and concluded their voyages at the shrine of Our Lady of Redcliffe, and to them we owe the looming body of the church.
Impressive architecture aside, the church contains lots of intriguing treasures. Not least is a whalebone presented by John Cabot in thanks for his safe journey to mainland America, and Admiral Sir William Penn is buried in the south transept. Two problems were swept aside, and Pennsylvania was founded. My biggest tip is to seek out the New Room access via Broadmead or Horsefair courtyards , the oldest Methodist chapel in the world.
shipshape and Bristol fashion
Built by John Wesley in , the chapel and its sparsely furnished rooms, Holy Communion at 1 p. Clifton and West End, too, has its religious treasure, in the form of Bristol Cathedral. The best time to visit, as for most cathedrals, is when choral evensong fills out the airy spaces with a resonance that lifts you free of the daily hubbub. I enjoy walking, but others may prefer a short bus ride to Clifton village.
Shipshape and Bristol fashion - Wikipedia
Clifton stands a little apart from the rest of Bristol, like a chic castaway from Bath, thanks to its Georgian crescents, antiques shops, fashion boutiques and intimate cafes. But do fit in Bristol Blue Glass in Brislington—you might just find the perfect souvenir.
Bristol was once a major glass-making center; it had the ingredients and the trading routes, and from the s, the innovative Bristol Blue, combining cobalt oxide and lead crystal, became highly prized. To watch the glassblowers is totally absorbing, as they roll great molten globules and coax them into a glinting goblet or vase. Candlesticks, bowls, decanters, jewellery, in Bristol Blue or Ruby—not shipshape exactly, but definitely Bristol fashion.
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DeMille as he "directs" a scene, altering the lighting via a sophisticated control panel. A more complex exhibit allows children to make their own animation and even email the resulting masterpiece home.
As Charlie's head is already among the stars it seems only appropriate that we venture into the planetarium, a giant silver globe forming part of At-Bristol science centre. Reclining in the dark, we are treated to a splendid tour of the winter night sky. The boys enjoy identifying the different-shaped constellations, especially the "Greater Dog" Canis Major which contains the sky's brightest star, Sirius, or the "dog star".
Next door, Bristol Aquarium's creatures keep us entertained for a morning, including a giant Pacific octopus, a species that can reach more than 15ft in length. Bristol has got something for everyone; whether you are after peace and quiet or a lively night out. With science and nature covered, there's just time to dip into Bristol's history on a Bristol Packet boat trip around the Floating Harbour, which was designed by Brunel to replace the easily-silted up port.
Picking up and dropping off at Wapping Wharf along the redeveloped Harbourside, with an alternative pick and drop off just up from The Bristol Hotel the minute trip in a glass-sided barge is a brilliant way of learning about the city's history, notably its links to the slave trade, and the birthplace of Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard the pirate. As we chug back into port our guide points out a large ship and prominent landmark, Thekla. Permanently moored, it is a former freighter-turned-nightclub and is decorated with artwork by Banksy he is from Bristol.