Forget Old Reputations, This Is a Great City To Explore
When I started planning my trip to Scotland, I had second thoughts about flying into Glasgow. To me, it struck me as less tourist friendly and more of a tough industrial city. It also had a reputation, once dubbed the murder capital of Europe. But that was around 15 years ago and much has changed. And lucky for us, because this city is not only an architectural gem with it's beautiful red sandstone buildings, but it also has quite an active artistic side.
Join me as I reveal Scotland's largest city through my 10+ kilometer walk through the city. I think you'll find it a wonderful break from the tourist heavy Edinburgh.
My General Path Through Glasgow
If you're planning some time in the city, my walking path here is really the outer perimeter of the areas I investigated. I hit a lot of highlights, but there are some wonderful places down Buchanan Street and in the city centre. Explore and have fun. And as you'll find, clean the wax out of your ears - the people of Glasgow have some of the thickest accents you'll find in Scotland. Sometimes you'll wonder if they are just putting you on!
Glasgow City Chambers
Location: 82 George Square, Glasgow
The lion stands as a symbol for Scotland. Here, he guards seat of Glasgow's city council and a government administrative building as far back as 1888, when Queen Victoria inaugurated it.
A City of Murals
I love the realism in this beautiful mural. It was painted by former Australian and now Glasweigan Smug. It depicts St. Enoch and Child, the co-patrons of the city of Glasgow. St. Enoch or Teneu (there are several spellings of this name in history) was a 6th Century princess who was apparently raped by a man masquerading as a woman. When her father discovered her pregancy he was so angry, he had her sentanced to death and hurled from a cliff called Traprain Law. Miraculously she and the child survived. When he was born, she called him Kentigern but the community gave him the nickname Mungo or "my dear one." There is much confusion around his life as one of the original biographers later suggested he integrated other legends into Saint Mongo's tale. More of Smug's work will show up as we move through the city.
Strathclyde University Mural
Location: 50 George St, Glasgow
According to Wikipedia, this is depicting a Dansken equestrial telescope that was once used at the Royal Technical College. It also shows Strathclyde University's commitment to space technologies.
Strathclyde Wonderwall Mural
Location: 99 George St, Glasgow
Get your selfie with famous graduates of the university. Wait, was Frankenstien's monster a graduate? No, but Andrew Ure was a graduate and his experiments on corpses may have lead Mary Shelley to create her character. The T.A.R.D.I.S. from Doctor Who? Why not? Pick out a favorite and hashtag #Strathwonderwall
Location: 90 George St, Glasgow
All of these murals are within a few feet of each other at the Graham Hills Building.
Location: Castle St, Glasgow
The oldest cathedral in Scotland, built in the 12th Century, it is also one of the only churches to survive the Reformation without losing it's roof. Known as the High Kirk, this still active church and is also the location of St. Mungo's crypt.
You'll find a variety of statues along Cathedral Square. This one is of a businessman named James White who was well respected and while I can't find anything historically significant that he did, he was well liked and maybe that is a good enough reason to be immortalized. Walking this area you can also view the Necropolis, a hilltop Victorian-era graveyard that was active between 1833 and 1851 when it was declared full. While there are over 50,000 bodies here, there are only around 3500 monuments. Full? I wonder how high they had to stack the bodies to make the hill?
Location: 84 Castle St, Glasgow
Standing next to the Cathedral is the South facing medical building of the Royal Infirmary, a teaching hospital that was built in the late 18th Century.
St. Mungo Mural
Location: 3 Castle St, Glasgow
Patron saint of Glasgow, this Smug painting is captivating. Saint Mungo was alive in the 6th Century, so the clothing depicts a more modern interpretation. The robin is based on a story where after seeing children throwing stones at robins, Mungo picked up a wounded robin and it revived and flew away - it was called a miracle.
This was spotted as I was walking south on High Street from the Cathedral. By the way, in the United Kingdom High Street is used in much the same way as Main Street is in the United States.
More beautiful red sandstone runs along High Street and throughout Glasgow.
The People's Palace
Location: Glasgow Green, Templeton St, Glasgow
More of that beautiful red sandstone, this museum was opened in 1898 to celebrate the social history of Glasgow. Located in Glasgow's East End, it used to be an overcrowded and rough area of town. The walk from High Street is much more open now and while it sometimes feels like it might get sketchy, I didn't feel nervous walking in this area. There was a carnival happening not far from here on the green.
Not only will you find the three Billy Connolly paintings here, but you'll also find the history of everyday Glasweigians, including the activities they found pleasure in. If you're used to museums that focus on royalty and people of privelidge, this will be a welcomed change. It is a fitting monument to a traditionally working class city.
Location: Glasgow Green, Glasgow G40 1AT, UK
This fountain, created by the ceramic company Royal Doulton, features Queen Victoria and four regions of the British Empire (India, Australasia, Canada, and South Africa). Built in 1888 and placed on the green, it was struck by lightning, destroying the likeness of Queen Victoria. The company returned to fix the statue and restore the Queen to her former state. In the 1960's the statue was allowed to fall into disrepair and the water was shut off. In 2002, a full restoration took place and a couple of years later it was moved around the People's Palace to the front. It is a wonderful subject for photos.
Study of a Woman in Black
Location: 146 Saltmarket, Glasgow G1 5LB, UK
Murals will show up in the most unexpected places. In the left hand corner, you'll see a work by artist James Klinge. This is one of two murals depicting a woman in black. The other is on Bridgegate Path.
Billy Connolly Mural
Location: 118 Osborne St, Glasgow G1 5RP, UK
The Big Yin as he is known in his homeland of Scotland, Sir Billy Connolly started as a welder, then a singer, and finally a comedian. One of Glasgow's favorite sons, three murals were made in his honor. This is a depiction of one of those, originally created by John Byrne and recreated here by Rogue One. The words surrounding the picture are from a song he used to sing called "Saltcoats at the Fair." The three murals can be seen at the People's Palace.
Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Andrew
Location: 196 Clyde St, Glasgow G1 4JY, UK
Because of the Scottish Reformation of 1560, Catholics could not openly participate in services around Glasgow. It wasn't until 1791 during the Catholic Restoration that Glaswegians could finally actively participate in services. Two decades later, with the Industrial Revolution in full bloom, an influx of Catholic immigrants arrive from Ireland needing a place to worship. In 1814, this Neo-Gothic church was built along the River Clyde to support the new parishioners. Standing among more modern buildings, I decided to showcase this proximity by utilizing the glass building next door to capture the reflection of the church.
Tiger Style Mural
Location: Waterfront near the South Portland Pedestrian Suspension Bridge
Cue the Rocky music! Another James Klinge creation (assisted by Art Pistol who prepared the surface), this is my favorite mural in the city of Glasgow. Located on the North side of the River Clyde this fierce tiger with black eyes was apparently the second tiger mural in this location. The original was designed by John McFaul for the Year of the Tiger in 2010. The two are very different from each other and apparently it took the citizens of Glasgow a little time to get used to this high profile replacement, but it is now a jewel of the Mural Trail.
Dr. Connolly I Presume Mural
Location: 40 Howard Street, Glasgow
A second Rogue One painting of Billy Connolly makes it's way to the streets of Glasgow. This one painted by Jack Vettraino as part of Billy Connolly's 75th birthday celebration.
La Pasionaria Statue
Location: 286 Clyde St, Glasgow
A controversial figure Dolores Ibarruri was a communist Spanish politician who was also a republican heroine of the Spanish Civil War. She is depicted in this statue in honor of the International Brigade Association of Scotland, who lost 534 volunteers who died in the conflict fighting with the republicans. The statue is made of fiberglass and scrap metal and was recently reconditioned and rededicated as it had fallen into disrepair.
Location: 286 Clyde St, Glasgow
Take a walk along the north side of the River Clyde, especially on a sunny morning or evening, and see some wonderful reflections along the waterfront. You'll also see a variety of bridges, starting at the South Portland Pedestrian Suspension Bridge. As you make your way up, you'll find old Glasgow Bridge. Originally built in 1772 it was reconstructed in 1833 and then widened in 1899. It holds the distinction of being the first electrically lit bridge in Glasgow.
Location: River Clyde
One of several pedestrian only bridges over the River Clyde. This one was meant to give easy access from the Tradeston neighborhood to the financial district.
The Clyde Arc / Squinty Bridge
Location: The Clyde Arc, Glasgow, UK
Locals refer to this as the Squinty Bridge because it crosses the river at an angle. Built in 2006, it was closed for a short time in 2008 when a suspension cable snapped. Now repaired and confirmed as safe (thanks, since I crossed it twice in a vehicle), it is one of the uniquely designed bridges that spans the Clyde.
Location: Exhibition Way, Stobcross Rd, Glasgow
The Glasgow waterfront entertainment campus features the SSE Hydro arena, SEC Centre exhibition center, and the above pictured SEC Armadillo - a 2000 seat performance centre that is said to resemble the Sidney Opera House in Austrailia.
Location: 1103 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8ND, UK
Honestly, I was a little under impressed here. Another Instagrammer pointed out this alley, and while it does have some interesting little buildings, it is a little out of the way. Although, on the way back toward Centre City, check out The Bon Accord for a nice pint or whisky or see my new buddies Andrew and Pete at the basement whisky and wine shop Inverarity One to One and see if they're doing a wine tasting or challenge them to a game of darts (but do better than I did!).
Location: 60 Renfrew St, Glasgow
Another Rogue One mural, this one depicting a whole bunch of cats. If you're allergic, you may want to step back a few feet! Being a cat lover, I'm quite fond of this one.
Location: 48 Buchanan St, Glasgow
People in Scotland come from near and far to shop Buchanan Street. You'll find a variety of shops and can walk the street carefree as no cars are allowed. Even during a weekday I found the streets filled with people. These building's stunning architecture is a great way to finish up a day of strolling around Glasgow.