Bristol was originally known as Brigstow, ‘the place at the bridge’, and you can still see this name around the city today.
A starting place for early voyages of exploration to the New World, Bristol has always had strong links with the ocean. As a vibrant port city, Bristol's trade and industry in tobacco, glass and chocolate boomed and merchants prospered.
The city's role as a key port also led to its brutal and shameful part in the Atlantic slave trade. See these important stories at the Bristol People gallery at the M Shed.
Bristol was renowned for ship building with the finest materials and skilled techniques, leading to the phrase 'shipshape and Bristol fashion'. Visit the SS Great Britain, a former passenger steamship combining size, power and technology that changed the way that ships were built forever.
These ships weren’t alone on the waves. Discover the infamous pirate Captain Blackbeard's hideaway cave under St Mary Redcliffe Church, and his original birthplace and childhood home on the harbourside.
Hear history come to life through sea shanties, or discover letters, diaries, photos and film spanning 800 years at the Bristol Record Office. Marvel at the Clifton Suspension Bridge - since 1864 this feat of engineering has been a testament to Isambard Kingdom Brunel's amazing designs.
Take a tour of the neo-Gothic Wills Memorial Building, and climb the tower for sensational views across the city. Or visit any of the 100 Grade I listed buildings in Bristol, including Bristol Cathedral and Blaise Castle.