November 17, 2018


by Steve W

After a short train ride from Edinburgh, we arrived in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. Rosemary had a bad cold, so it took us a couple of days to begin exploring the city, which we did by starting with a hop on-hop off bus. We often use these to get a feel for a city, learning what is where, and sometimes using them instead of public transportation to get somewhere on the bus route.

St. Kentigern, better known as St. Mungo, is Glasgow's patron saint and founded the city in the 6th century. According to legend, Queen Languoreth of Strathclyde was suspected of infidelity by her husband. King Riderch demanded to see her ring, which he claimed she had given to her lover. In reality, the King had thrown it into the River Clyde. Faced with execution, she appealed for help to Mungo, who ordered a messenger to catch a fish in the river. On opening the fish, the ring was miraculously found inside, which allowed the Queen to clear her name.

Based on this, many of the depictions of Mungo include a fish and a ring. These are found in churches, stained glass windows, lampposts and other symbols.

The top of a lamppost.

Inside the Glasgow Cathedral, Mungo holding a ring, a boy holding a fish.

The official seal of the city.

Outside the Museum of Modern Art. You can tell he's saint by the halo around his head.
As with many cities in Europe and the UK, the spiritual center of the city is the Glasgow Cathedral, the oldest building in the city. Built in the medieval style, the Cathedral has high ceilings, stained glass windows, and other features reflecting its 12th century origins.

Note the barrel vaulted ceiling.

A view of the back of the Cathedral from the Necropolis.
On a hillside behind the church is the Necropolis, the burial site of Victorian Glasgow's rich and famous. Many cemeteries have large monuments to a few of the people buried there, but the Necropolis has more than I've ever seen. While most of the names are meaningless unless you know the history of Glasgow, there are a few familiar names, including John Knox, a leader of the Scottish Reformation.

Looking uphill to the John Knox memorial.

John Knox

Glasgow also has some excellent museums. One is the Riverside Museum, which features a history of transportation, from (allegedly) the first bicycle to streetcars, automobiles, subway cars, motorcycles and other vehicles.

The 2nd oldest Rolls Royce

The first bicycle?
Behind the Riverside Museum is the Glenlee, one of the tall ships built in Glasgow, a city known for its shipbuilding.

Bet the Titanic wished it had a few more of these.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, built in 1901, has one of Europe's great art collections. Housing traditional European works as well as contemporary pieces, you can spend hours there (as we did) exploring their many galleries.

"Return To Sender", a tribute to St. Elvis

You can tell he's a saint by the halo around his head.
The Kelvingrove also has a painting by Salvador Dali entitled "Christ of St. John of the Cross", with a view of the crucifixion from above.

Hello, Dali!
On the campus of the University of Glasgow is the Huntarian Museum which has, among other things, sections of the ancient wall that the Romans built in Scotland.

The University campus itself is beautiful, with an impressive tower, main gate with names of famous alumni, and a large quad.

Glasgow has its share of statuary and monuments, including David Livingstone, Queen Victoria, and William Gladstone.

Dr. Livingstone, I presume.

"Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl..."


In front of the Museum of Modern Art is a statue of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, who always seems to have a traffic cone on his head.

There are also many murals created by local artists that, generally, are not marred by graffiti as in many other places.

Another thing Glasgow has in common with other cites we have visited are shopping districts where chain stores are on the ground level of older buildings, offering a unique view of 21st century retail.

Even though we got off to a slow start, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Glasgow and recommend a visit if you are in Scotland.

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