View from the top: exploring Bristol’s Cabot Tower

Bristol has many attractions and it can be hard to come up with a shortlist but Cabot Tower is included on many a visitor’s list – and for good reason. Cabot is a popular word for monumental buildings and there are many such structures with the same title, including Cabot Square in London’s Canary Wharf development and Cabot House, a residential house at Harvard University. It is also a common title for company names, notably those in the financial services sector.

View from the top

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History of Cabot Tower

The word Cabot in this case is derived from John Cabot, the fifteenth century Italian-born explorer. At the heart of the tower is discovery and if you decide to grab a Bristol taxi and explore Bristol’s Cabot Tower, you will find a wealth of things to do and to see.

Cabot Tower is a 105 foot tower built in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot’s first English expedition from Bristol to North America in 1497. He eventually landed in what was subsequently to become Canada.

The tower is located in Brandon Hill, the oldest park in Bristol on a site formerly occupied by a windmill. Local Bristol architect William Venn Gough designed the tower.

Exploring the Tower

The tower has an enviable skyline and has marvellous views of the city and the harbour, making it a must-see. It has a range of family-friendly features, such as a children’s play area, together with conservation areas. The winged figure on top of the spire represents Commerce. Interestingly, at night the beacon used to flash out the word ‘Bristol’ in Morse code.

Following an extensive restoration in 2011, the viewing platform at the top of the tower is once again open. If you have the energy, you can climb the steep 100 plus steps to the top of the tower and admire its mixture of red sandstone with accents of cream Bath stone.

Less energetic visitors can simply relax and enjoy a picnic in its exquisite grounds.

If you need a guide and a ride to the tower, local firms such as will be happy to take you there in style.

If you are visiting this magnificent city and exploring Bristol’s glorious attractions, do ensure that you include Cabot Tower in your itinerary.

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