Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, is vibrant and downright sassy.
Glasgow bubbles with sensational cuisine and raucous nightlife. Along the revitalized River Clyde, you’ll discover Glasgow’s seagoing heritage as you wander the riverfront walkways. Museums, galleries and trendy street-cafes abound. The extraordinary Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a marvel. Listen to the music pouring out of pubs—it’s among the best home-grown sounds in Britain. Step inside and nurse a pint of local brew in one of the city’s perfect watering holes.
Glasgow’s early history is the stuff of myths. Its name comes from the Celtic word GLAS-CU, meaning, “the dear, green place.” In 390 AD, St. Ninian dedicated a Christian burial ground here. Two hundred years later the first settlers arrived to join St. Mungo in his new monastery. Today, St. Mungo’s is the only complete medieval cathedral on the Scottish Mainland and the largest Gothic building in Scotland. The cathedral is built on a sloping site that falls away to a small stream. St. Mungo’s tomb can be found amidst the pillars and gothic vaulting of the lower church. It is breath-taking.
Because Glasgow is on the navigable Clyde River, it quickly expanded into an international port. The first cargo arrived from Virginia in 1674. Trade was based on tobacco, rum and sugar. By the 18th century half of the trade between Europe and America was controlled from Glasgow, outpacing both London and Bristol. In the 19th century, Glasgow renewed itself as a cotton center.
The Tobacco Lords became immensely rich, grand, and they loved to show off. Their favorite gathering place was Trongate near Glascow Cross. An area was designated as THEIRS. They’d pace around in their swanky clothes and red cloaks, clearing rabble away with silver-knobbed canes. They’re long-gone, and now it’s a great place to go shopping!
One fine Sunday, in May 1765, something happened in Glasgow Green that changed the world. James Watt was strolling through Glasgow’s largest park, lost in thought. Struggling with how to improve the steam engine that he was working on, “The whole thing suddenly became arranged in my mind.” Watt had a flash of inspiration, the idea of a separate condenser, that would set the Industrial Revolution in motion. That magic spot in Glasgow Green is marked with a boulder. The park is still an inspiration!
There is a vital, off-beat, working-class Glasgow. This is the city of fish-and-chip shops, working men’s pubs, rowdy laughter and street markets, plus the giant traders’ Barras marketplace held in the east end every Saturday and Sunday morning.
Want another park? The Botanic Gardens grew out of a collection of the university’s medicinal plants. The highlight is a 23,000 square-foot greenhouse, the Kibbel Palace. It’s named for the man who moved it to its current location from his home in 1897. It still has medicinal plants, as well as plants from all over the world.
Loch Lomond is less than a one-hour train-ride away…what a mysterious and wonderful journey. And, one-half hour from the city center, you can kick back among soft bens, glens, and lochs. Take it easy, and enjoy pastoral scenery or stroll along a deserted beach with a backdrop of magnificent hills.
Scotland’s largest city is a cultural dynamo–no false pretenses in Glasgow. Its urban mayhem and offbeat style lets you know that this city is all about fun, friends, and the joy of life. Glasgow is a metropolis that is 100% gregarious and down-to-earth.