It stands on the River Avon (the one which also flows through Bath), and it was by a bridge over this river that the mediaeval town grew up.
Coins were minted here in the 10th century, during the reign of Ethelred the Unready.
King Stephen was imprisoned at Bristol Castle for a period in 1141, when it was owned by Robert of Gloucester, and it was here that some of Richard II's followers were executed.
Bristol was a trading port from around the 13th century, originally trading with France, Spain, Portugal; and Holland.
It was prominent in the Elizabethan period for its mariners, among whom were the famous John and Sebastian Cabot, who set sail from here in 1497 and reached Newfoundland. It was the Merchant Venturers who gave the language the expressioon "all ship shape and Bristol fashion".
Later, along with Liverpool, it was one of the chief ports in the shameful but lucrative slave trade.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel left his mark on Bristol. His Great Western Railway came here, and he designed Bristol Temple Meads Station. His first steamshp, the SS Great Western, was launched here in 1838, and the massive SS Great Britain is now a huge tourist attraction.
Bristol Cathedral was originally the abbey church, and retains the Norman chapter house.
St. Mary Redcliffe is a magnificent church, dating back to the 13th century. It was much admired by Elizabeth I, who called it "the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in the kingdom".
St. John's Gate is the only remaining city gate, and is surmounted by the tiny St. John the Baptist Church. There are a number of other interesting old churches.
The Docks are a busy tourist attraction, although no longer commercially operated, today's docks being at Avonmouth on the estuary of the River Severn.
Famous businesses operating from Bristol have included Harvey's wines (such as Harvey's Bristol Cream), Fry's chocolate and Wills' cigarettes.
John Wesley's Chapel was built in 1739, and is the oldest Methodist building in the world.
Bristol is built on a number of hills, and in places is pretty picturesque, particularly Christmas Steps.
Daniel Defoe met Alexander Selkirk in Bristol. It was on Selkirk's life that Defoe based his novel "Robinson Crusoe".
The TV series "Casualty" and "Holby City" are set in a mythical city named Holby, which is based on Bristol.
Bristol has a well respected Zoo, and two football teams, Bristol City and Bristol Rovers. The first of these has entered rhyming slang in a rather rude way, items of ladies' anatomy being referred to as "Bristols" or "Bristol Cities".
Famous people born in Bristol include Johnny Ball, TV presenter; Richard Bright, physician; Thomas Chatterton, poet; Russ Conway, pianist; Robin Cousins, ice skater; Lee Evans, comedian; William Friese-Greene, cinema pioneer; Christopher Fry, playwright; Cary Grant, Hollywood film star; Geoffrey Household, novelist; Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books; Bernard Lovell, astronomer; Samuel Plimsoll, politician; Michael Redgrave, actor; William Rees-Mogg, journalist; William Slim, military commander; Robert Southey, poet; Marcus Trescothick, England cricketer; Samuel Wesley, composer; and Robert Wyatt, singer.
Now virtually a suburb of Bristol is Clifton, where Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge can be seen and there is also a Catholic cathedral.
Places in Bristol
Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol Cathedral, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol Temple Meads Station, Bristol Zoo Gardens, British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, Christmas Steps, Georgian House, Industrial Museum, Lord Mayor`s Chapel, New Room, Queen Square, Red Lodge, SS "Great Britain", St. George`s Church, St. John`s Church, St. Mary Redcliffe Church