Glasgow – Scottish gem

by Caroline Morrow Brown (courtesy of

University of Glasgow
Photo: Johannes Becker, Source:

A heady mix of grand Victorian and sensuous art nouveau, Glasgow is one of Europes most important cultural centres. This is Scotland with style, its wonderful museums, galleries and concert halls complemented by the friendly and fun-loving Glaswegians, and offering nightlife and an events calendar thats second-to-none.

Voted UK City of Architecture and Design in 1999, and European City of Culture in 1990, the city has a concentration of art nouveau masterpieces by design genius Charles Rennie Mackintosh, such as the House for an Art Lover, with a permanent exhibition of decorative rooms; the Glasgow School of Art and the Lighthouse, Scotlands Centre for Architecture, housing varied exhibitions and featuring the award winning Mackintosh Centre. A new Mackintosh Trail ticket gives entry to all paying attractions connected with the great man, plus unlimited bus and subway travel, for a very reasonable £12.

There is also a medieval cathedral, many stunning contemporary buildings, including the Clyde Auditorium, affectionately known as the Armadillo, and a plethora of fine Victorian edifices. Visitors can take in much of this by sampling panoramic views of the city from the top of the newly opened Glasgow Tower. The tallest free-standing structure in Scotland, the 127 metre-high tower (part of the interactive Science Centre with its IMAX cinema) moves to face the wind whenever it changes direction.

Glasgow is home to Scottish Ballet, Scottish Opera and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and popular entertainment is equally well served, from stand-up comedy and rock music, to pantomime.

A great seaport, in the past Glasgow had a pivotal role in shipbuilding and other industries. The story of the citys industrial past, and of how this affected the often grim and short lives of its inhabitants is vividly retold in the Peoples Palace, a collection covering everything from tobacco trading to the temperance and womens Suffragette movements.

Shopping and eating are other pleasures that Glasgow has to offer in abundance. There are enough stylish shops to satisfy even the most dedicated shopaholic – the city is Britains second largest retail centre after London—and for bargain lovers there are the weekend flea markets of the Barras and plenty of quirky boutiques.

Ashton Lane
Photo: Jukka Lång, Source:

Glasgows compact city centre, underground railway and grid-like street layout make it easy to navigate. Large malls such as the Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch Centre are just a short stroll from the elegance of the Italian Centre and Princes Square, as well as the speciality shops of the Merchant City. The mews and lanes of the citys bohemian West-End are a treasure-trove for anyone hunting antiques, rare books and individual pieces of jewellery and crafts.

And after a hard day enjoying yourself? The city has bars and restaurants to please the most cosmopolitan of tastes. You can quite literally eat your way round the world as the café culture espouses the latest trends in global cuisine, from the style and noodle bars of the Merchant City to the restaurants and brasseries in the cool West-End.

So whether you prefer traditional Scottish food, including the local haggis and bashed neeps, ethnic cuisine or the very latest in fusion and Pacific-Rim, youll find something to savour.

Glasgow is a night-life paradise. Nightclubs, discos and late bars abound, and the hardest thing is choosing where to go. The scene changes often, so to find the latest hotspots, check with the tourist information office. Among the latest night-spots is Oran Mor, a former church now transformed into a bar, restaurant and music venue.

With its own international airport and direct rail and motorway links with the rest of Britain, Glasgow is easy to reach. It is also an excellent gateway to the rest of Scotland by rail and road: along the bonnie banks of the River Clyde; to Loch Lomond, the countrys first national park; or deeper into the heather-clad Highlands.

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