Sightseeing in Glasgow



A city steeped in history there are sights and attractions galore to see in Glasgow. Some are owned or operated by the city council whilst some are privately owned. However, one thing which is entirely free is just walking around the city enjoying the architecture. Starting at the George Square you have the imposing City Chambers and a 29m high monument to the Scottish poet and novelist - Sir Walter Scott. The whole city was laid out on a grid system, in Georgian times, which you soon start to appreciate as you navigate your way around the city.

The jewel in the crown of Glasgow architecturally has to be the Glasgow Cathedral. Building began in the 12th century on the site at which St Mungo had previously built a church, prior to that it was a burial site consecrated by St Ninian in 397 AD. Noted for its low central tower and spire it is the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland. Most of the current building survives from the 14th century and is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that managed to avoid the ravages of the reformation. Whilst a lot of the stained glass is modern, in the Blacadder aisle there are some intricate and delightful miniature panels. The aisle is named after Robert Blacadder, a former archbishop of Glasgow around 1500 - not a rather seedy TV character. The most outstanding feature though is the vaulting around St Mungo’s tomb in the crypt. Outside and to the rear of the cathedral is another monument to Gothism - the Necropolis. Laid out in 1833, the recently restored cemetery holds the ornate graves of the city’s merchants and rich folk.

The Merchant City in Glasgow is to the east of the city centre. Largely built with merchants wealth generated by the ports trade in tobacco, rum and sugar; the area is full of gorgeous Georgian civic and domestic buildings. Now largely given over to hotels, bars and restaurants; you can’t help but feel the atmosphere of what it would have been like to be one of the privileged ones, living or working here in the 18th century. On Queen Street in this district is the Gallery of Modern Art. The gallery has an engaging approach to its displays of modern art and sculptures, making it accessible to all including children. Glasgow has many other fine museums, but of particular note is the Burrell Collection. Not in the Merchant City, but south of the river in a modern 1970s building at the Pollok Country Park. The art collection of over 9000 pieces was amassed by Sir William Burrell and bequeathed to the city in 1944. A spectacular building that maximises the flow of natural light in it has works by Degas, Boudin, Cézanne and many, many more. Designed in 1791 by the noted Scottish architect - Robert Adam - is the Trades Hall. It is worth visiting this guildhall just to see the exquisite interior wooden panelling. Another famous Scottish architect, Charles (Rennie) Mackintosh also has several buildings in the city, most notably the School of Art on Renfrew Street which was opened in 1899.

Any self-respecting city with a river in it these days has to have a water-side development. Pride of place in the Glasgow waterfront is Glasgow Science Centre, which was a Scotland’s flagship millennium project. Inside the two cosmic looking buildings there’s an IMAX cinema theatre and an Interactive Science Mall. On the opposite bank of the river Clyde is one of the five surviving sailing ships built in the nearby shipyards that is still afloat. An impressive three masted tall- ship, The Glenlee was launched in 1896 and restored in the late 20th century. It now has displays about life onboard a sailing ship at the end of the 19th century. Also nearby is the Pumphouse, which also has displays explaining its function in the past in keeping the river workable. Further away, off Kings Inch Road, is the Clydebuilt Museum. Inevitably this recalls the history of shipbuilding on the Clyde and its decline in the 20th century. Between April and September you can journey down the river Clyde on the only surviving ocean-going paddle steamer in the world. The Waverley, built on the Clyde in 1947, also sails out to the Forth of Clyde and the islands of Bute and Arran.

Glasgow Cross is one of the most historic places in the city. Originally the place where the Mercat Cross would have stood, it was the centre for trade and administration in the city. It is now located at the junction of: High Street, Gallowgate, London Road, Saltmarket and Trongate. In the middle of it is the Tron Steeple, the only surviving remnant of a church that once stood their, St Mary’s, which was accidentally burned down by the ‘Hellfire Club’ in 1793. Other notable landmarks worth seeing are the Tolbooth Steeple and the Merchants’ Steeple.

For a full blown account of Glasgow’s history a visit to the Peoples Palace is recommended, along the way to Glasgow Green. Opened in 1898 all the city’s life is recorded here.  Also, nearby you can see the largest terracotta fountain in the world, the fabulous Dalton Fountain. If you look across Glasgow Green you might be surprised to see a reproduction of the Doge’s Palace, Venice; this was actually a carpet factory built in the late 19th century.

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