When you think about Scotland and history, you think about medieval castle ruins by the lochs and sea, historical battlefields in the Highlands, or simply the beautiful Old Town of Edinburgh with its towering Castle. Glasgow is not necessarily the first place that comes to mind – but did you know that Glasgow has an incredibly rich history to look back on? One aspect of this history is the industrial age, when the city made a name for itself and its ship building and railroad industries – but the city itself is of course much older. And to go all the way back to the beginnings of Glasgow, you have to join a Glasgow Cathedral Tour!
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Our guide Ailene was already waiting for us inside Glasgow Cathedral; I was part of a group of bloggers, writers and influencers who came together through Travel Massive, a global organisation for people in the travel industries with local chapters making it easier to connect, network and collaborate.
Ailene was wearing a long, bright blue robe which fit the setting of the majestic Cathedral perfectly. Cycling from the East to the West End on a daily basis I had of course seen the Cathedral many times. I had also been up the Necropolis before, which is the Victorian cemetery behind the church. But I had never actually been inside the Cathedral – and what a mistake that was!
Early records of Glasgow Cathedral show that the first stone church was built here in the early 12th century and ever since the Cathedral had been a place of worship. It stands allegedly where the patron saint of Glasgow, Saint Mungo, built his church. While some few stone pillars from that time still exist, most of the architecture is actually not that old. Particularly the stained glass windows are from post-war times, but belong to the most beautiful examples of this craftsmanship!
As we were walking from the rear ship down to the crypt, Ailene was telling us stories of Saint Mungo, and how symbols of his deeds are captured in the city’s coat of arms. The saint’s tomb is located in the lower crypt and sometimes concerts are held down here. The acoustics are one of a kind.
How to visit Glasgow Cathedral
Tours can be booked in advance for groups with one of the cathedral’s volunteer guides, but you can also visit the cathedral without a tour throughout the year. Leaflets and guidebooks are available to purchase, which is great if you are interested in the history of the Cathedral. Even without any guidance though, the church is worth a visit!
You can reach Glasgow Cathedral by foot from the city centre within 15 minutes. From here you can also grab a bus or train back to the city centre or the West End, or further towards the East End. Of course, the hop on-hop off City Sightseeing Bus also stops here!
Other things to do around Glasgow Cathedral
While you’re already in this part of town, at the edge between city centre and the East End you might as well check out St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art across the square in front of the church. It is an interfaith centre with exhibits from all major world religions and even a zen garden. We were lucky enough to get exclusive access to the staff terrace on the roof, from where you get a fantastic view across Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis.
Across the road you can visit one of Glasgow’s few medieval buildings, The Provand’s Lordship. It is actually the oldest remaining house in Glasgow, while the Cathedral is the oldest building. Here you can see what life was like for the clergy and staff of the Cathedral.
For views of the city and to see some extraordinary graves, take a walk about the Necropolis!
Finally, as Glasgow Cathedral lies just at the top of High Street – which is a sign for Glasgow’s former city centre being located right here, much closer to the Cathedral – you can pick up the City Centre Mural Trail with this beautiful mural depicting a modern-day St Mungo by Glasgow regular Smug.
Have you ever visited Glasgow Cathedral or another historical place in Glasgow? Let me know your favourite spots in the comments!
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Photo by Andrea Mason aka @little.scottish.one
Thanks to Travel Massive Glasgow for a great day out! I can’t wait for the next opportunity to meet up – a taster of the Glasgow Music City Tours is waiting for us!
All photos by Kathi Kamleitner unless stated otherwise.