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|Another 'son' of Bristol was the 19th century engineering genius Isambard Kingdom Brunel who created many world-beating monuments including the revolutionary ship SS Great Britain, the awe-inspiring Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Great Western Railway.
The SS Great Britain, built in the 1840s, has been restored and is a major local attraction; it was the world's first propeller-driven iron ship capable of sailing the oceans, making 32 voyages around the world during its 26-year lifespan.
The huge Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by Brunel, spans the steep-sided Avon Gorge and at one time it formed a defensive gateway to the city. Only two miles from the city centre, it is overlooked by three Iron Age hill forts. The gorge is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and supports two unique types of tree, the Bristol white beam and Wilmotts white beam. They are found nowhere else.
Temple Meads today houses the award-winning British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, the first major institution in the UK to present the 500-year history and legacy of Britain's overseas empire.
Modern Bristol has a plethora of historic buildings and attractions that include the city's majestic cathedral in College Green. Founded in the 12th century as an abbey, it was reputedly built on the spot of a famous meeting between St Augustine and Celtic Christians in the year 603. Together with fine medieval glass windows and a number of ancient tombs, it possesses some remarkable animal carvings, one of which depicts a monkey playing the bagpipes.
Two other local churches date to the 13th century - St Mary Redcliffe, which was built by local merchants and mariners and boasts a 285ft landmark tower, and nearby St Stephens.
One of Bristol's most impressive buildings is the Victorian Rooms, in which both Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde gave readings of their works, while the oak-panelled Red Lodge is an Elizabethan merchant's built around 1590 that boasts a suite of 16th century rooms and a Tudor-style knot garden. The city's mid-18th century Theatre Royal is the oldest working theatre in the country while Bristol Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world outside a capital city. The Watershed Media Centre and Arnolfini gallery are both housed in disused dockside warehouses.
The city also boasts, among others, a hands-on science centre and a remarkable industrial museum and art centre.
There are many more sights to visit beyond the city's boundaries. Dyrham Park, for example, is one of the National Trust's finest properties while the Duke of Buckingham's castle at Thornbury is arguably the west of England's best Tudor building.
Further afield are the seaside resorts of Clevedon and Weston super Mare, not forgetting the splendid Georgian city of Bath.