Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Glasgow
Glasgow sits astride the Clyde about 19mi/30km from where the river opens into the Firth of Clyde. In recent years Glasgow has undergone something of a transformation. Since the disastrous decline of the commercial fleet and the dockyards, the pace of life has speeded up as the successful post-industrial restructuring has brought a new culture and new service industries to the city.
In the mid-80s the Exhibition and Conference Center opened its doors, derelict buildings by the banks of the Clyde were cleared to create plenty of green, open spaces and the old dockland sites on the opposite bank of the river were converted into residential quarters. Sandblasters cleaned up the sooty facades of the Victorian buildings in the heart of the city and shopping arcades, the glass-covered St Enoch shopping and entertainment center and the elegant Prince's Square were opened. Many new opportunities were created for cultural events, so that now this working class metropolis seems to have successfully and in its own way met the two requirements of enlightened tourism: "real life" and "culture".
With one or two exceptions Glasgow's architectural heritage does not go back much further than 200 years. The urban beauty of Glasgow lies in the commonplace, as the architects of Victorian and Edwardian times have left their mark on department stores, banks, the offices of insurance companies, hotels, pubs and stations.
An important element in Glasgow's architectural development has been the expansion of the Clyde as a port accessible to all ocean-going vessels - 200 years ago it was possible to cross the river on foot at low tide. Now 11 bridges and a road tunnel link the two sides of the city.
Let Glasgow Flourish.
The full wording of Glasgow's motto is "Lord, let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of Thy word and praising Thy name", a message that was recorded on the bell at Tron Church in 1631. The coat-of-arms shows St Mungo together with symbols representing the four legends associated with Glasgow's patron saint. The fish with a ring in its mouth derives from a traditional tale about Queen Langoureth who gave her wedding ring to one of her husband's entourage. In a jealous rage King Hydderch Hael took the ring and on a hunting trip threw it into the Clyde. On his return he asked his wife to show him the ring or face the sternest consequences. In panic the queen turned to St Mungo who sent one of his monks down to the river. He caught a salmon and, believe it or not, the ring was in its mouth. The bird in the shield represents the revival of a dead robin, the oak tree a frozen hazelnut branch with which St Mungo rekindled the monastery fire and the bell on the tree is said to have been presented to the Pope in Rome.
In 543 St Kentigern, who was baptized by his teacher St Mungo, built a chapel over his grave on the edge of Glasgow. Work on a cathedral at the same site started in 1136 and a medieval settlement grew up around it. After the Reformation the city center shifted to Glasgow Cross and in 1451 Bishop William Turnbull founded the country's second university nearby.
Trade with North America blossomed after the 1707 union with England. The clippers belonging to the Glasgow tobacco barons were the fastest ships on the route to Virginia and, until the American War of Independence in 1776, Glasgow was Britain's premier tobacco port. In the same year the economist Adam Smith who had taught at Glasgow University between 1751 and 1763 published his seminal work entitled "An enquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations" which defined the nature of classical economics. The mid-18th century saw the rise of the textile industry and in 1769 the engineer James Watt invented the steam engine which revolutionized production methods. At nearby Paisley in 1792 the first mechanical looms were installed. Watt became the leading engineer responsible for improving the navigability of the Clyde and a 19mi/30km stretch of the waterway was deepened so that ships could sail up the river as far as Glasgow where docks and industrial sites sprang up. In 1812 Henry Bell's "Comet" the first seaworthy steamship sailed from here and by the mid-19th century 80% of all British steamers were made in Glasgow shipyards.
World-famous Glasgow-based shipping lines such as Clan, Cunard and Donaldson sailed the high seas. Until well into the 20th century luxury Atlantic liners, including the "Queen Elizabeth II", were built on Clydeside. The construction of ships and steam locomotives brought immense prosperity, with Glasgow enjoying its heyday towards the end of the 19th century. Churches and public buildings were funded by wealthy merchants, ship owners and textile magnates although few now remain. The other side of Glasgow's success story was the massive population increase within a small period of time and with that came impoverishment. The many opportunities for employment had attracted immigrants from far afield. Glasgow became a melting pot of different nationalities but was unable to offer the workers decent housing. Although many of the newcomers came from abroad, famine in Ireland and the clearances in the Highlands brought thousands of Irish and Scots to the city. A safety valve for the religious and social rivalry between the two communities was often the football pitch where Rangers (1888; Scottish Protestant) faced Celtic (1873; Irish Catholic). The notorious slum quarters in the east end and the Gorbals south of the Clyde were demolished at the end of the 19th century only to be replaced by Victorian tenement blocks which soon became overcrowded. When these were torn down after World War II, large sections of the population moved out into the satellite towns.
With the decline of heavy industry in the Clyde region, the population fell. The burgeoning oil industry centered on Aberdeen attracted many Glaswegians and the inner-city areas started to decay once more. Even in the 1970s the image of Glasgow was tainted by football hooliganism, unemployment, violence, poverty, dirty factories, run-down housing estates and vast areas of derelict land. In the early 1980s a huge renovation program was started on Clydeside. The massive GEAR (Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal) project covering some 4,000 acres/1,600 hectares was one of the most ambitious attempts ever undertaken to solve the problems of a decaying inner city. More recently status-building campaigns, such as Glasgow's role as European City of Culture, have helped to improve the city's self-image and have encouraged investment.
The name Glasgow originates from the Gaelic words "Glas ghu" meaning a "lovely green place", a description that is confirmed by the city's 70 or so parks and open spaces. As for art and culture, some of Glasgow's museums and galleries are of world class, the city has a lively music scene and avant-garde film and play producers are active. Glasgow would not be Glasgow were it not for the two footballing rivals of Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic. Perhaps the best-known of Glasgow's museums are the Burrell Collection in Pollock Park, the Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery which houses one of the finest municipal art collections in Britain, the respected McLellan Galleries where top-class temporary exhibitions of contemporary art take place and the Museum of Religion near St Mungo's Cathedral (1993), thought to be the only one of its kind. Glasgow's Citizens Theater was founded in 1942 by James Bridie and enjoys an excellent reputation. Other eminent theaters include the King's, the Tron and the Tramway, not to mention the Theatre Royal, home of the Scottish Opera, and the new Concert Hall for the Royal Scottish Orchestra. The Pavilion Theatre is used for musicals, pop and rock concerts. Other important cultural events range from the colorful Mayfest, the Celtic Festival, the Gourock International Games and Streetbiz to the international jazz and folk festivals.
St Andrew's Church
Scotland Street School Museum of Education
Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre
Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery
Time should be set aside to visit the Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery. Opened in 1901 it probably has the finest municipal collection of British and continental paintings in the United Kingdom. Van Gogh's "Portrait of Alexander Reid" (1886) is certainly one of the museum's highlights as Reid was a well-known Glasgow art collector.
Elsewhere in the museum are sculptures, Egyptian mummies and Scottish archaeological finds, including Bronze Age tools and jewelry from Arran, Kintyre and Glenluce. The ethnography department displays Ashanti figures from Ghana, bronze heads from Benin, masks from Zaire, Maori figures from New Zealand and a model of a Samurai warrior from Japan. Other exhibits of interest include weapons and armor, such as helmets, crossbows and swords from the 15th/16th century, Flemish tapestries, Glasgow-made jewelry, silverware, glassware and pottery from various periods. The natural history section also merits a visit. It documents the history of shipbuilding and maritime travel on the Clyde.
Other artists displayed here include Bellini ("Madonna with Child", ca. 1475), Botticelli ("The Annunciation", 1490), Guardi ("San Giorgio Maggiore by the Canale Grande in Venice", 1755), Rembrandt ("The Carcase of an Ox", 1630, "A Man in Armour", 1655), Picasso ("Flower Seller", 1901), Camille Corot ("Mademoiselle de Foudras", 1872), Matisse ("Study of a Young Woman", 1919), Juan Gris ("The Glass", 1918) and Georges Braque ("Still Life with Fruit", 1926). French Impressionists are also well represented with Degas ("Dancers", 1898), Signac (Sunset in Herblay, 1884), Seurat ("Riverbank", 1883), Cézanne ("Fruit Basket", 1877), Monet ("Vetheuil", 1880), Sisley ("Boatyard in Saint-Mammes", 1886) and Pissarro ("The Tuilerie Gardens", 1900). William Aikman and Henry Raeburn ("Mr and Mrs Campbell of Kailzie") represent British portrait artists but others include William Turner ("Stirling", 1831), the Anglo-American Whistler ("Portrait of Thomas Carlyle", 1872), Graham Sutherland, Ben Nicholson and Ben Johnson ("The Gatekeeper", 1977).
Among the Scottish artists with work on display here are the portraitist Allan Ramsay, Alexander Nasmyth ("Rocky Landscape", 1817), Horatio McCulloch ("Glencoe", 1864), Robert Herdman ("Execution of Mary Stuart", 1867), the Glasgow Pre-Raphaelite Burne-Jones, Thomas Faed ("The Last of the Clans", 1865), the Aberdonian William Dyce, James Guthrie ("Old Willie", 1886), George Henry ("Landscape in Galloway", 1889), Edward A. Hornel ("The Fish Pond", 1894), John Q. Pringle ("Two Figures by the Fence", 1904), Leslie Hunter ("Old Mill in Fifeshire"), William McTaggart ("Paps of Jura", 1902), Peploe and Cadell ("Interior", 1928-probably the lounge in Cadell's Georgian town house in Edinburgh), Stanley Spencer ("Port Glasgow", 1952), William Gillies from Edinburgh ("Still Life in Blue and Brown", 1952), Mackintosh (La Lagonne, 1924), William Gear ("Summer Garden", 1951) and Glasgow's Bruce McLean ("Acrylic and Chalk Collage", 1984).
Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery
University Visitor Centre
Riverside Museum (formerly Kelvin Hall, Museum of Transport)
The specacular glasshouse has a number of Victorian sculptures along the soaring tree ferns.
House for an Art Lover
World Pipe Band Championship
Dumbarton - Geilston Garden
Glasgow Science Center