The Medieval City
Glasgow Cathedral, the easterly focal point from which the city developed, dominates the Medieval City. In fact, there is actually a mixture of Medieval, Georgian and Victorian architecture here.
The Merchant City
Just south west of the Medieval City is the Merchant City. From George Square, along Ingram Street, and down to the Tron Theatre, this is an example of 18th century town planning. Georgian and Victorian buildings provide an elegant sophistication to the area. Look for the Gallery of Modern Art on Queen Street and Hutchesons’ Hall on Ingram Street.
The City Centre
This is where the shops, the bars, the theatres and the restaurants are. Head for the centre of Glasgow, in the Sauchiehall Street area, just north west of the Merchant City. By day the population tends to be comprised of suits, shoppers and students. By night people head for the city for the theatres, and the large selection of clubs, restaurants and bars. The Theatre Royal and the Centre for Contemporary Arts can be found on Sauchiehall Street.
The West End
Just as the Cathedral dominates the medieval district, so Glasgow University dominates the West End of the city – it’s the fourth oldest in the UK. Its parkland setting and cosmopolitan vibe mix seamlessly with the fashionable, affluent feel of the surrounding area. There are also loads of museums and art galleries here, including Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Hunterian Art Gallery and Museum.
The area just south of the River Clyde is characterised by parkland: Bellahouston and Pollok Country Park to be precise. Both house fine collections of art including The Burrell Collection.
History of Glasgow
It may have been St Mungo who was responsible for the establishment of Glasgow; the city having grown up in the late 6th century around his Christian settlement. In fact, it is thought that Glasgow Cathedral was built on the sight upon which this settlement’s church originally stood.
In 1451 Glasgow University was founded – its the fourth oldest in the United Kingdom.
It was as a port town that the city’s trade began to flourish. In the 17th century it imported tobacco, sugar, cotton and various other things from the Americas. Many of these imports were promptly re-exported to France, Germany, Italy, Holland and Norway. With the development of a super-charged steam engine by James Watt in the 18th century Glasgow turned its attentions to the textile industry & started to build cotton mills.
Daniel Defoe in 1724 described Glasgow as, ‘…the cleanest, the most beautiful, the best built city in Britain, London excepted.’
Glasgow then went on to shipbuilding, and by 1835 it was responsible for half the tonnage of steam ships produced in Britain. It’s from this economically powerful period that much of the city’s architecture springs.
Railway lines to Garnkirk (1831), Edinburgh (1842) and the Caledonian Railway (1845) boosted both Glasgow’s productivity & population further. By the mid 19th century the population of Glasgow had reached 420,000. As with most cities experiencing such a boom in their working-class population, housing was built cheaply & inadequately resulting in a proliferation of slums.
Glasgow is now Scotland’s largest city. The fact that it was Europe’s City of Culture in 1990, and UK City of Architecture in 1999 shows that it is enjoying a resurgence of cultural identity – something reflected in the city’s vibrant feel.