Glasgow: A Gem in Scotland’s Crown
Happy April Fool’s Day! I’m not fooling though when I tell you Glasgow is a brilliant city, well worth visiting. Located in the lowlands, just about an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, Glasgow is a bustling port city. But it also has developed a reputation for being a center of culture. In addition to being the headquarters for the National Scottish Orchestra, the Scottish Opera, and the Scottish Ballet, Glasgow has a contemporary music scene as well. In 1990, the city was named the European Capital of Culture. It is the fifth most visited city in the UK. Today’s post provides just a glimpse of the attractions and activities waiting to be explored in this gem of a city: Glasgow.
The best starting point for discovering a city’s exciting features is a tour. The Glasgow City Centre Tour introduces you to Glasgow’s history from 600 AD onwards. In addition, it takes you to top sites such as George Square, Glasgow Square, the cathedral, and the Necropolis, plus hidden treasures that you might not find on your own. The tour lasts about an hour and a half and is both wheelchair and stroller accessible. Tickets, as of this post, cost about $17. Tickets must be bought in advance but you can get a full refund if you cancel 24 hours before your scheduled tour.
Glasgow has several museums. Among the must-sees are the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, and the Riverside Museum. Kelvingrove houses over 8,000 exhibits. They include a World War II Spitfire, dinosaur skeletons, medieval armor, and Sir Roger the Elephant, a nearly eleven-foot-high taxidermied pachyderm. The museum also has paintings from masters such as the French Impressionists, the Dutch Masters, and Dali. Best of all, most of the exhibits are free.
A part of the University of Glasgow, the Hunterian Museum is Scotland’s oldest public museum. Founded in 1807, the museum has artwork from the likes of Rembrandt and Whistler. But it also has a decidedly scientific bend, jousting instruments used by James Watt and Lord Kelvin as well as geological, zoological, and paleontological specimens.
The Riverside Museum is an award-winning museum of transport with 3,000 exhibits that show the history of transport.
Glasgow’s Science Center has three floors and about 300 interactive science exhibits. Its goal is to introduce everyone—from children to adults—to the wonders of science. The admission includes free workshops and shows. There is a planetarium which can be visited for an additional fee. A café is available onsite as well.
Parks and Gardens
The Glasgow Botanical Gardens offer over 50 acres of parkland. Included is Kibble Place with 11 Victorian-style wrought-iron framed glasshouses with beautiful floral collections. Additionally, there is a walking path that leads to Kelvingrove Park, the museum, and the riverside.
Stretching over 360 acres, Pollok Country Park offers a green space retreat from the city. It has a network of walking trails that take you through woodlands, parkland, and gardens. As you walk, you will see the shaggy and distinctive Highland cows that have been bred on the estate, a tradition that started in 1830. While strolling through the park, take the opportunity to visit Pollock House, a country estate with an extensive collection of Spanish artwork. Also be sure to visit the Burrell Collection, a museum which houses over 9,000 pieces, including the works of Rodin, Degas, and Cézanne, along with tapestries, stained glass, medieval arms and armor.
The City Centre Mural Trail takes you on a tour of Glasgow’s street art. This is not everyday graffiti. Giant paintings adorn many of the city’s buildings. For example, St. Enoch and Child, at the corner of High Street and George Street, depicts the story of Glasgow’s founding. Another painting is a fun mural of two girls playing with bubbles. It is aptly named Bubbles. The painting Honey I Shrunk the Kids shows the gigantic image of a girl with a magnifying glass looking down at passersby. Viewed from certain angles, it seems as though she is plucking them right up off the street. Click here to view pictures of the entire collection of murals.
A visit to Scotland would not be complete without pausing to enjoy the uisce na beatha (the water of life), more commonly known as whisky. You can take your pick of a tour of one of two of Glasgow’s distilleries) or visit them both!).
Clydeside Distillery is located in the heart of Glasgow, right next to the River Clyde. Dedicated to producing a lowland-style single malt whisky, The distillery four different tours of varying lengths and prices, beginning with a one-hour tour for 15 euros per person. Also exciting: the hour-and-a-half Whisky and Chocolate Tour for 30 euros.
Just 14 miles north of Glasgow is Glengoyne Distillery. Operating since 1833, Glengoyne has been described as “Scotland’s Most Beautiful Distillery.” They offer several distillery tours and experiences, starting at 18 euros for a 75-minute tour. Glengoyne even offers an hour-long online whisky tasting for 35 euros, tasting kit included. Unfortunately, at this time the kits can be sent only to UK addresses. But that’s all the more reason to visit Scotland in person.
Glasgow’s famed City of the Dead is much more than a cemetery. Stretching across 37 acres of land, the Necropolis has abundant Victorian architecture and 3,500 elaborately designed monuments. There are actually more than 50,000 people buried there but not all of them in marked graves. This cemetery is Glasgow’s second-largest green space, with wooded areas filled with wildflowers. It has over 180 types of plants and trees as well as abundant wildlife. The Necropolis is free to visit, and guided tours are available. The graveyard closes to the public at 4:30 PM, but nighttime tours can be booked. If you dare….
There is much more to see in Glasgow. This is just a quick overview. I encourage you to find out more about Scotland’s second-largest city.
I wrote today’s post in honor of my paternal grandparents who came to the U.S. from Glasgow, and to my father’s two older brothers who were born there. Most of all, I dedicate it in loving memory of my father, Frank Dorman.
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Slan go foil!