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Bristol’s best open space

There is no doubt that a successful city cannot thrive without great open public spaces. From facilitating a Sunday league football game to extended political demonstrations, public spaces give city dwellers the ability to play and escape the suffocation of the city. Bristol has successfully struck a balance between the hustle of the city and the calmness granted by open space. With 14% of Bristol made up of registered parks and open public space, Bristol has one of the highest percentages of parks to urban areas in the UK. However, which one of these spaces is the best?

Red deer in Ashton Court, overlooking the city of Bristol

Whilst the largest open space, Ashton Court, is set in 850 acres of idyllic rolling hills on the edge of the city, I think that inner city open spaces are seriously underestimated and undervalued. Escaping from the city to visit areas such as Ashton Court is a fantastic way to retreat from urban pressure and thousands more visit from the wider region of the South West. However, the smaller slithers of urban parkland are what connects thousands of local people everyday to the wider world. Examples include the secluded Berkeley Square and Queen Square, both of which are hidden away within the city offering respite for the urbanites of Bristol.

However, right in the heart of Bristol city centre is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and culturally influential open spaces in the whole of Bristol: College Green. Surrounded by four periods of architecture, College Green encapsulates the culture and foundations of Bristol as a city. Flanked by the stunning Council offices and the hugely significant Bristol Cathedral, sitting in College Green is like turning back the clocks. Its lush green lawns and various great oak trees provide an essential place of peace and serenity only meters away from the city centre.

College Green flourishes in summer, offering respite on the doorstep of thousands of city dwellers

Though it may be one of the smallest green areas in Bristol, at only two acres, the space plays a vital role in the everyday lives of the people in Bristol. When sitting in this space it’s often hard to believe you’re actually in the city centre. Only the perpetual drone of cars, the bustling streets and the occasional smell of the various nearby restaurants stop complete disconnection from the city. What makes this park even more appealing is its proximity to the big businesses and activities in the centre. Resting at College Green after work before heading off into the city centre brings people back down to earth, something which is extremely hard to do in the non-stop rush of 21st Century living.

College Green has also hosted hundreds of public events and protests in the past year alone; some on an incredibly small scale and others in which the whole city has been involved. No matter what is happening at College Green, it’s clear that the space gives people a voice to express themselves artistically, politically and socially.

College Green is an essential asset to Bristol as it brings people together in so many ways. Its multitude of uses is what sets it apart from the other open spaces in Bristol. It is a sanctuary of nature within a concrete jungle that characterises Bristol and the people that live and work in it.