Curious about what Scotland has to offer apart from Edinburgh?
Are you enthusiastic about street art?
Would you like to experience first-hand the feeling of being in Harry Potter’s Hogwarts?
If your answer is a big “yes”, you are ready to buckle up and come with me to this one day in Glasgow itinerary to the discovery of the highlights and landmarks of this city.
We visited Glasgow in early 2020 as the second stop of our Scottish tour, which brought us to Edinburgh, to begin with, Glasgow, and through the stunning Scottish Highlands.
We unexpectedly liked it very much and that why I decided to write about it and our tour.
But, let us start this new adventure without any further ado!
What is Glasgow most famous for?
Glasgow is famous for:
- Its street art, adding a modern twist to the city thanks to a project called “Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail” by the Glasgow City Council. This project planned to bring new life to empty building façades with the help of local and international artists and their graffiti works;
- Its Necropolis, the final resting place of over 50,000 people.
What to do in Glasgow in one day?
Let us start our visit with one of the murals of the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail, the Wind Power Mural in Mitchell Street.
1. Wind Power Mural
This mural, created by Rogue-One and Art Pistol as part of the Doors Open Day 2014 event, and conceived at first as a live installation, celebrates the diversity of renewable energy production in the Glasgow region and throughout Scotland.
From there, take Mitchell Lane, and you will find the Glasgow Panda Mural on your left.
2. Glasgow Panda Mural
This Giant Panda is at home beside the bamboo gates of Gordon Lane, one of the most amusing streets in the city. James Klinge’s panda was first introduced to the wildlife scene of Glasgow in 2013, and it has maintained its ground over the years.
From there, continue onto Mitchell Lane, and turn left onto Buchanan Street.
3. Buchanan Street
Buchanan Street is one of the busiest shopping streets in the city. It is the heart of its prominent shopping district, with a more upscale selection of stores than the nearby streets of Argyle Street and Sauchiehall Street.
From there, turn right onto Exchange Place. You will reach Exchange Square, where you can find the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington just in front of the Gallery of Modern Art.
4. Duke of Wellington Statue
One of the most famous landmarks of Glasgow is the equestrian statue of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Sculpted by Italian artist Carlo Marochetti, it was erected in 1844. It is notable for being topped with a traffic cone, a practice that has become traditional in the city and is said to reflect the humour of the local population. The statue was named one of the “top 10 most bizarre monuments on Earth” by Lonely Planet in 2011.
From there, take Queen Street, and, at the end of it, you will find George Square.
5. George Square
George Square is one of the most important squares in Glasgow. This square, named after King George III and first laid out in 1781 but not built for another twenty years, is surrounded by architecturally significant buildings, including the palatial Municipal Chambers, also known as the City Chambers, on the east side and the Merchants House on the west side.
Queen Victoria, Robert Burns, James Watt, Sir Robert Peel, and Sir Walter Scott are among the many statues and monuments in the square.
A group of mid-19th-century warehouses south of George Square make up the Glaswegian fashionable Merchant City district, which, along with the Italian Centre, features exclusive cafés, restaurants, and designer boutiques. The area is particularly appealing in the winter when an impressive show of Christmas lights dazzles families and visitors in town for some Glasgow sightseeing.
From there, take George Street, and you will find our next stop on your right.
6. Strathclyde University Mural
This “Wonderwall” honours the University of Strathclyde’s people and their many accomplishments. Art Pistol collaborated with Rogue-One and Ejek to complete the project, which was nearly 200 meters long from start to finish and included three seven-story gables.
The Dansken equatorial telescope, which was once used to teach nautical astronomy, is also on display. And the Land-Ship was a mock-up navigation bridge on the roof of the Royal College’s School of Navigation, which was used to teach compass adjustment concepts.
From there, continue onto George Street, and you will find ST Enoch and Child Mural o your left.
7. St Enoch and St Mungo Child Mural
To complement the mature picture of a modern-day St Mungo on High St (our next stop), Smug has produced this fantastic piece of work.
St. Thenue/Enoch is cradling her beloved St. Kentigern/Mungo in this contemporary interpretation of the founding story of Glasgow, with the recurring Robin linking this piece with the next one.
Smug has managed to capture a degree of tenderness and attention to detail characteristic of his work.
The mural guide claims that because of its proximity to the former Rottenrow or Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital, it also reflects a celebration of motherhood.
From there, take Hight Street, and you will find the next stop on your left.
8. Saint Mungo Mural
Completed in February 2016 without a name, they named it during a moment of intense social media interest, when an image of the installation was posted over 1.5 million times in the first week.
Smug depicted Saint Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow, dressed in modern clothing and with a robin in his hands. This image calls to mind a story about some boys who, while throwing stones at robins on the ground, killed one of the birds and fled. A child Mungo, though, decided to pick it up smoothing its feathers and praying over it. The bird, eventually, resurrected and flew away after a short time. The villagers thought it was a miracle.
From there, continue onto High Street and Castle Street. You will find Glasgow Cathedral on your right.
9. Glasgow Cathedral
Glasgow Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Glasgow, St Kentigern’s Cathedral, or St Mungo’s Cathedral, is the oldest sanctuary in Scotland and the most ancient building in the city.
It was erected between the 13th and 15th centuries on the site where the first bishop of the ancient British kingdom of Strathclyde, St Kentigern or St Mungo, as the patron saint of Glasgow is better known, was thought to have been buried in AD 612. Its first stone was dedicated in the presence of King David I in 1136.
It was the only Scottish mainland medieval cathedral to survive largely intact the 1560 Reformation when Scotland officially broke from the Papacy and demolished many ornate symbols of worship in the process.
Among the most noteworthy features in Glasgow Cathedral you can find: the mid-13th century crypt designed to house the tomb of St Kentigern; the early-15th century pulpit; a richly carved stone screen that divides the choir from the nave; and the beautifully carved stone ceiling in the Blackadder Aisle, built about 1500 by Archbishop Blackadder. It also has one of the most impressive post-war collections of stained glass windows in the country, including John K Clark’s Millennium window, which was dedicated on January 13, 2000, on St Kentigern’s Day.
A late-15th-century stone choir screen divides the sanctuary, with seven pairs of figures possibly depicting the seven deadly sins. The four stained-glass panels portraying the Apostles in the east window are exceptionally moving. The entrance to the 15th-century upper chapter house, where the University of Glasgow was created, is located in the northeastern corner and is now being used as a sacristy.
A stairway leads to the lower church, which is the most alluring part of the sanctuary. The tomb of St Mungo (who established a monastic community here in the 6th century) is the subject of a prominent medieval pilgrimage and thought to be as meritable as a visit to Rome.
From there, enter the Necropolis through the stunning black and gold gate right next to the Cathedral.
10. Glasgow Necropolis
The Glasgow Necropolis is a Victorian 37-acre (12.5-hectare) cemetery with 50.000 individuals buried here and approximately 3,500 funeral monuments still standing (most burials do not have gravestones).
It is a treasure trove of fascinating architecture, sculpture and stories from the Victorian past of Glasgow, modelled on the Pere-Lachaise in Paris. For all these reasons, it is now known as one of the most significant cemeteries in the whole of Europe.
It was built in the Classical Revival architectural fashion by the Merchants’ House of Glasgow in 1831. Its most prominent monument, dominating the hill and predating the Necropolis by several years, is to John Knox, the Scottish clergyman and writer, leader of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.
Volunteer-led guided walking tours of the cemetery, available for free (save for a suggested donation), will help make sense of its sprawling, somewhat haphazard layout and complex topography. But, you are safe to explore it on your own, if you prefer.
From there, you can either walk to our next stop (a 25-minute walk) or catch a taxi and be there in 6 minutes.
11. Glasgow Green
Glasgow Green is a park on the east end of the city and the north bank of the River Clyde. Established in the 15th century, it is the oldest park in Glasgow.
Its main attractions are the People’s Palace and the Winter Gardens, the lovely Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain worldwide, and the Nelson’s Monument, an impressive column built in 1806 to commemorate Horatio Nelson’s victories.
12. People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
The Earl of Rosebery opened the People’s Palace, a social history museum and glasshouse, on January 22, 1898. It displays how people in Glasgow lived from the 18th to the 20th centuries through artefacts, paintings, prints, and films from various eras.
Behind the People’s Palace is the Winter Gardens, a Victorian glasshouse with a selection of palms and tropical plants, as well as a café.
Both the People’s Place and the Winter Gardens are free to visit.
From there, take a taxi to our next stop, Kelvingrove Park.
13. Kelvingrove Park
Kelvingrove Park is a public park located on the River Kelvin in the West End of the city, containing the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
It provides an 85-acre (34-hectare) urban haven for animals and people alike. There is a possibility that you could come across animals as rare as kingfishers and otters or as common as red foxes. When the weather is nice, you can find all kind of people here, from dog walkers to the students of the nearby university.
From there, head to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, our next stop.
14. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, opened in 1901, is a museum with 22 art galleries that houses a diverse collection of exhibits, including Renaissance art, taxidermy, Scottish colourists, French impressionism, Egyptian artefacts, a Van Gogh portrait of Glaswegian art collector Alexander Reid, and Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross.
The Glasgow School of Art and its most well-known figure, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, are celebrated in a collection of galleries that include fully decorated rooms, pottery, metalwork, furniture, and other works of art. Bronze Age tools and jewellery discovered in Scotland, including Arran, Kintyre, and Glenluce, are also on display.
Weapons and armour from the 15th and 16th centuries, such as helmets, crossbows, and knives, as well as Flemish tapestries, Glasgow-made jewellery, silverware, glassware, and pottery from different periods, are among the other exhibits of interest.
That is one of the many reasons why the European Commission named Glasgow the UK’s top cultural and creative city in 2019.
From there, cross the park and the river Kelvin to reach the University of Glasgow, the last stop of this “One day in Glasgow itinerary”.
15. University of Glasgow
Established in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest in the United Kingdom and the second oldest in Scotland. It has more historically listed buildings than any other university in the UK, many public museums and attractions.
You can get campus maps and information at The Welcome Point (open Monday-Friday), the visitor information centre, located in the McIntyre Building near the main university entrance. You can take a self-guided tour or book a guided university tour in advance at the visitor centre or online.
This Gothic building complex is one of the most magnificent in Glasgow and houses some of the Scottish most exquisite stonework, with its Cloisters being a popular tourist attraction. They are so impressive that they also appeared in several films and television shows over the years, and fans of Outlander would no doubt remember them as the setting for Harvard University in the show.
As you enter the Gilbert Scott Building, the immense East and West Quadrangles are connected by the fluted columns and ribbed ceiling of the Cloisters. I suggest taking a stroll along the path that circles both quadrangles to take in the atmosphere of this remarkable place.
Furthermore, if you are a fan of the Harry Potter movies like us, the buildings surrounding the Quadrangles, with their looming towers, cathedral-like windows, and dark archways leading off into secretive nooks and crannies, will remind you of Hogwarts.
Other highlights of the University include the Chapel, the Bute Hall, the Hunterian Museum, Hunterian Art Gallery, and the Mackintosh Room.
The Chapel, designed in 1929 as a memorial to the 733 university students who died in World Wars I and II, is still used for worship services and ceremonies today. It is one of the few locations in Scotland where both Protestants and Catholics can get married, and the stained glass windows are pretty impressive.
Bute Hall is possibly the most remarkable building of the complex, and it is here where the graduation ceremonies take place. Built between 1878 and 1884, it has a massive arched wooden roof and majestic stained glass windows on each wall, creating an exceptionally atmospheric space.
The Hunterian Museum, the oldest museum in Scotland, is located directly in front of Bute Hall. It has several interesting exhibits in archaeology, palaeontology, and zoology, among other areas. During your tour, you can see dinosaur bones, medical devices, ancient weapons, Roman artefacts from the Antonine Wall, and much more.
Located next to the library, the Hunterian Art Gallery houses one of the finest public art collections in Scotland. There, you will find works by Rembrandt, along with many works of art by the celebrated Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It also has a permanent exhibition called “the Mackintosh House” which displays some of the interiors of Mackintosh’s home regrettably demolished in 1960.
Glasgow astonished us with the elegance of his architecture, parks, museums, and street artwork. Being the latter not only the cherry on top but also an incredibly interesting link between past and present.
So, if you have the chance, we strongly recommend visiting this alluring city!
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