Top 5 Glasgow

Glasgow became the second most important city in the British Empire; designed as a centre of commerce along the lines of New York City. It was built to a grid plan that simultaneously mirrored the class-consciousness of the Victorian society-posh up on the hill, run-down quarters on the outskirts.

Many English entrepreneurs made their way up north, as Scottish labour proved cheaper than the English; they engaged in cotton manufacturing, ship building and heavy engineering enterprises.

The upper class had developed an equally lavish lifestyle as elsewhere in the kingdom- rum, sugar and tobacco was imported from the colonies; the “industrial giant” of the time generated a new city for better and for worse – wealth, increasing entertainment and splendid architecture on the one hand, a huge working-class and pollution on the other.

Glasgow was somewhat forgotten for several decades in the 20th century before it experienced a cultural renaissance, and its strategic importance for the rise of wealthy Scotland was remembered.

It remains today the second biggest city in the United Kingdom.


Our Top Five sites to visit are:

1. Shupbuilding Cranes:

Two of the city’s most iconic shipbuilding cranes have turned into rather popular visitor attractions. The Finnieston crane stands for Glasgow’s shipbuilding past and has become one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. It erects ominously over the River Clyde, proudly bearing the city’s industrial heritage.

A relic of the age when Glasgow’s shipyards made this one of the most powerful and important industrial cities in the world, the giant grey Finnieston crane – still emblazoned with the title of its former owners Clydeport, and one of just four remaining such cranes on the Clyde – is no longer in working order. But it has been wisely retained and recontextualised in new proximity to such shiny modern buildings as the Armadillo, The Hydro, the Glasgow Science Centre and the BBC Scotland headquarters, as a potent and emotive 174-feet-tall symbol of proud engineering heritage.

The Finnieston Crane is just one among several landmarks on the Clyde which can be experienced along a relatively short walk from Glasgow Green east of the city centre upriver to Govan. From the St Andrews footbridge to The Clyde Arc (or the Squinty Bridge, as it’s known, for its odd shape), there’s a crossing for practically every era of modern Glasgow history.


2. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum:

Opened in 1901 this is a favourite with local people and visitors. It has stunning architecture and a family friendly atmosphere.

Explore 22 galleries and discover everything from art to animals, Ancient Egypt to Charles Rennie Mackintosh and so much more.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is home to an incredible array of 8,000 exhibits, spanning everything from a World War II Spitfire to Salvador Dalí’s mesmerising Christ of St John of the Cross. Discover dinosaur skeletons, medieval armour, stunning works by the Dutch Old Masters, French Impressionists and the Scottish Colourists.

Other highlights include Sir Roger the Elephant, a taxidermy measuring 10.5 feet in height and one of Kelvingrove’s most popular exhibits. It’s without a doubt a must-visit in Glasgow!


3. The Hunterian Art Gallery:

The country’s oldest public museum, with one of the largest collections. Here you can find the Mackintosh House, with its historically and aesthetically important interior and brutalist exterior. Built in the 1960s near the former home on Southpark Avenue of Glasgow’s most famous architect Sir Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) and his wife, the artist Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh (1864-1933), the modern concrete structure adjoining the university’s gallery-library complex remembers the Mackintosh’s legacy in fond style. Inside is a meticulous reassemblage of the principal interiors from their home.

Two separate major fires in four years at Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building tragically caused the almost complete destruction of the defining work by one of the city’s most celebrated sons. As the Mac is painstakingly rebuilt, the Hunterian is a great place to start discovering other, smaller Mackintosh gems around Glasgow.


4. The Tenement Museum:

An ordinary middle-class tenement flat on the outside, a glimpse of life in Glasgow in the 20th century on the inside.

Glasgow Tenement, late 19th century
Glasgow Tenement, late 19th century

Glasgow’s tenements are widely known and recognised, but not many people know what they actually looked like back in the 20th century. The now Tenement Museum used to be home to Agnes Toward, a shorthand typist whose possessions and furniture haven’t moved since her departure in 1965. Now, the tenement house offers a real window to Glasgow’s past, through furniture and objects that remain intact and extensive info on its history.


5. Glasgow Botanic Gardens:

One of the prettiest green spaces you’ll spy in Glasgow, filled to the brim with history, botany and fine architecture.

Originally laid out in 1841 as part of the University of Glasgow, the Botanic Gardens were acquired by the city and made public in 1891. In 1873 the most distinctive building – the eccentric domed glasshouse Kibble Palace – was erected, followed a few years later by the Main Range teak glasshouse. Both have been beautifully preserved and brim with exotic plant life, from arid lands to tropical rainforests.


Destination – Scotland