Up early for another day of exploring, I took the underground (having learnt my lesson the day before of how spread out Glasgow is) to the east end of the city to see its Victorian roots. Getting off at High Street Station, I walked up High Street to Glasgow Cathedral. Although it technically hasn’t been a cathedral since 1690 as that was when it stopped being the seat of a bishop, the history of the cathedral is linked with that of the city, and hence is still worth a visit.
It is alleged to be the location of where the patron saint of Glasgow, Saint Mungo, built his church, and his tomb can be found in the lower crypt of the cathedral. The University of Glasgow also has its foundations within the cathedral, as it began as classes that were held in the cathedral itself, with the Bishops of Glasgow serving as Chancellors of the University for around two hundred years. It is a gorgeously dark building, demonstrating some of the best Scottish Gothic architecture that the city has to offer.
Being free to walk around, I happily explored all the parts of the cathedral for an hour or so, admiring all its beautiful internal architecture, particularly the heraldic ceiling (lots of tiny, symbolic shields) that I could not stop looking at. Having a history themed morning, I then walked across to the Necropolis. This is basically a fancy Victorian graveyard that in the 19th century the rich merchants and traders decided to lay their bones to rest in when Glasgow was hit by the industrial revolution. It doesn’t sound that interesting, but the Necropolis is actually fascinating to walk round to look at the investment placed by these prominent people on their final resting place. Half the graves are like mini houses, and are actually really ornate. Also, being on a hill, the Necropolis offers fantastic views of both the Cathedral and Glasgow below.
Finishing off my history tour, I stopped off at Provand’s Lordship across the road from the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art and the Cathedral. Supposedly the oldest house in the city, this historic house dates from the medieval period around 1471, having most likely once housed members of the clergy for the Cathedral. Once being numerous houses like this, Provand’s Lordship is the only remaining houses from this period in the city, the rest being demolished between the 18th and 20th centuries. It is a testimony to the religious heritage of the city and beyond that, it is fascinating to walk round such an old house and imagine people living in such buildings hundreds of years ago.
Having had my dose of history, I began to wander back into the centre of Glasgow to finish my day of exploring. Walking back down High Street then along George Street, I was able to catch a glimpse of some of the street art that decorates this part of the city, a nod to the artistic culture of Glasgow. You’ll find quite of lot of wall murals in this end of the city that are scattered around the University of Strathclyde as you walk back towards George Square.
From George Square, I went down Queen Street, passing the Gallery of Modern Art with its guarding statue complete with a adorned traffic cone on its head (Glasgow does have a sense of humour). From there, I turned to the shopping district of the city by going down Royal Exchange Square to Buchanan Street. Buchanan Street and its adjoining Sauchiehall Street is the shopping sources for the centre of Glasgow, housing on its paved stones the vast majority of recognisable brands from the high-street names to designer stores.
Decorated with beautiful Georgian buildings as well as every possible shop you could need, this part of the centre is a must-see stop for anyone with a slight interest in shopping. I particularly loved Princes Square, an inside beautifully designed shopping mall that has plenty of cafes to sit and rest your feet in. This is where my trip to Glasgow concluded, as I sat down to enjoy a cake and a coffee at Tinderbox, one of a chain of Glasgow-only coffee houses that was one of the first cafes to establish a coffee culture in the city. Although the Tinderbox on Ingram Street is generally considered the preferred site, the cafe in Princes Square is great for a break while shopping. Read more on what I thought of Tinderbox here.
Want to read more on Glasgow? Click here to read about Exploring Glasgow: Day One in Scotland’s Largest City.