Glasgow is Scotland’s most populace city. It also provides a fascinating contrast with the capital, Edinburgh. If you’re able to ‘plug-in’ to Scotland, you’ll start to become aware that in places Scotland is a country of divisions. Highland and Lowland tensions are well documented in Scottish history. The east coast and west coast also have distinctive characters that don’t always run harmoniously. Her two principal cities embody this trait too, and it would be fair to say that they enjoy an uneasy relationship.
Edinburgh is aesthetic, mercantile, and suspected of being perhaps a little bit too English facing. Glasgow’s wealth was built instead on industry, particularly ship building, but also steel works and tobacco trading before that. In 2014, along with Dundee, Glasgow voted in favour of independence, a move which they’ll probably come to see as further vindication of their right to the title of being truer Scots, who better embody the spirit of the nation.
George Square is the civic centre and focal point of Glasgow just off the main shopping streets
With its industrial heritage came a background of struggle for social justice. Glasgow has always been a very politicised city, and spawned people of expression and opinion. Traditionally it’s leant the city something of an edge, but following in the wake of this has been a spirit of creativity. Glasgow has been an innovative city giving birth to the ‘arts and crafts’ movement of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
To some extent things are coming a full circle in the last hundred years. In the 1920’s Glasgow was a city of radical rebellion, but as heavy industry went into decline it started to suffer horrendous economic hardship and population loss. Slowly however, it has started to reinvent itself and is emerging as a creative hub with a whole new generation of design industries flourishing. Today it’s becoming an increasingly confident city again as it starts to push at the boundaries, particularly in architecture where it’s always had a tradition of marching to its own tune.
The River Clyde used to be the economic artery of Glasgow, renowned for its shipbuilding. The Finnieston Crane (left) has been left in the landscape has a legacy of the past
Along with many of Britain’s industrial cities, Glasgow built its wealth through a combination of heavy industry, empire, and trade. This meant that it was able to build up an impressive collection of art works to add to its civic architecture. Since opening in 1901 the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of Scotland’s most popular free attractions. The museum has 22 themed galleries displaying an impressive 8000 objects. The displays are extensive and wide-ranging, and perhaps best known for one of the largest and finest collections of 17th century Dutch and Flemish art in the UK and one of the most important collections of 19th century French oils. Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) is the most visited modern art gallery in Scotland and plays an important part in the city’s rich heritage. The GoMA collects and borrows work that highlights the interests, influences and working methods artists from around the world share with those from Glasgow. The People’s Palace, is a museum and gallery with a twist. Set in historic Glasgow Green, it tells the story of the people and city of Glasgow from 1750 to the end of the 20th century, and draws on seemingly innocuous contributions from the everyman. The mission is to Explore the city’s social history through a wealth of historic artefacts, paintings, prints and photographs, film and interactive computer displays. Get a wonderful insight into how Glaswegians lived, worked and played in years gone by. The Burrell Collection is undisputedly one of the world’s finest treasure houses with 9,000 objects – from rare Chinese porcelain to modern masterpieces by Manet, Degas and Cézanne; objects from ancient civilizations to works by Rembrandt and Rodin. The iconic building however, is currently subject to a major refurbishment which has limited access. It is expected to fully reopen in 2020
The Kelvin Grove (left) and the People’s Palace (right)
© photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra (Kelvin Grove) licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
© photo by dun_deagh (People’s Palace)
licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 through Flickr Terms of licence [CLICK].
In the 1980’s it ran a marketing strap-line of ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’, which prompted a few Glaswegian’s to add, “but still has miles to go”. Today it has adopted the more accurate “People Make Glasgow”. This is genuinely true. Edinburgh might be the more aesthetically pleasing at face value, but Glasgow tends to have the personality. You can visit Edinburgh, but make a friend of Glasgow.
So how should you treat Glasgow? Our advice is to engage it’s people. They’re some of the most friendly, opinionated, and humorous you’ll meet. That is what makes the city so stimulating. We’re actually reminded of one of our favourite quotes from the 1950’s film ‘The Third Man’.
“In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” – Harry Limes (Orson Welles)