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Glasgow Travel guide

Glasgow hotels, Glasgow vacation packages 2024 - 2025

Glasgow is Scotland's largest city.
At one time it was the Second City of the Empire, constructing locomotives, weaving carpets and building ships that brought sugar, cotton and tobacco to the city and made some of its citizens wealthy.
Now the shipyards and heavy engineering industries are mostly gone, and the warehouses, once filled with the spoils of colonial trading, have become the 'desirable residences' of the Merchant City.


Glasgow Travel information

Travel Guide

Glasgow - History

* "Here is the bird that never flew.
Here is the tree that never grew.
Here is the bell that never rang.
Here is the fish that never swam."

St Kentigern, the recognised founder of Glasgow, was the illegitimate son of a princess, Thenaw, who had been expelled by her father the King of Northumbria and the Lothians. St Kentigern was born near the River Forth at Culross around A.D. 518, where, under the guidance of St Serf (also known as St Servanus), he received education and instruction in the Roman Catholic faith. St Kentigern's other name, St Mungo, is derived from the Gaelic word Munghu "dear one", which is believed to have been bestowed upon him by St Serf as a special sign of the regard which the elderly saint had for his pupil.

In 543, St Kentigern built a church on the banks of the Molendinar burn - a tributary of the River Clyde - where Glasgow Cathedral now stands. St Kentigern had, at one time, been driven out of Glasgow by a pagan prince and the young saint took refuge in Wales, where he founded a bishopric. Later, however, St Kentigern returned to Glasgow where he was received by a huge, cheering crowd. Delighted with the good-natured reception, St Kentigern began to preach to the gathering. Unfortunately the multitude was so large that the St Kentigern could not be seen or heard by the crowd, in response - as legend has it - the ground beneath his feet rose up into a small mound or hillock from which everyone could then see and hear the saint. This miracle is thought to have been the origin of the city's well known motto of "Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word".

Legend relates that St Kentigern performed four miracles which are commemorated in the arms of the City of Glasgow. The coat of arms depicts a tree with a bird perched on its branches flanked on either side by a salmon and a bell. Each item of the insignia signifies a special deed performed by St Kentigern.

It must be said that Glasgow around the time of St Kentigern barely existed and much of what is known of the period has been derived from a liberal mix of fact and fantasy. Most of the west of Scotland at that time was covered by huge, rich areas of forest, inhabited by bands of domesticated hunter/gatherers who sheltered from the harsh weather - and harsher invaders - in very basic tents and huts. Virtually no reliable records exist of the chronicles of Glasgow for some 600 years after the birth of St Kentigern, and many accounts of history of the city - including this one - are forced to pass over this long gap and move on to the next notable event: the building of the Cathedral.

In 1115, the future King David I re-established the Episcopal see of Glasgow - an event which effectively signifies the true starting point of the history of Glasgow. At that time, however, Glasgow was still a hamlet without a burgh charter - the formal recognition of town status. On the 7th of July 1136, a newly-constructed stone Cathedral was consecrated by John Achaius in the presence of King David on the site of St Kentigern's original wooden, and, by that time, disintegrating building. The Cathedral was surrounded by the dwellings of the bishop, the clergy, their servants and dependants. At this time Glasgow was the only bishopric south of the River Forth - with the exception of Galloway - in Scotland, and thus the bishop was seen as a very influential figure in the south of the country.

Unfortunately most of the newly-built Cathedral was to be ravaged by fire some fifty years after its construction and what remained was removed to make way for a more elaborate replacement. The building of the another Cathedral, again at the same location as the original St Kentigern building, commenced during the reign of William the Lion. Bishop Joceline, who was to oversee the arrangements for the new construction, laid the foundation stone of the new Cathedral in 1181. It had been Bishop Joceline who, in 1176, had successfully obtained a charter from King William allowing him to establish a burgh in Glasgow, thus bestowing on the city all the privileges which the King's burghs were granted.

William Wallace, who led the Scots to rebellion against a conquering English army, came from Elderslie, near Glasgow. He is reputed to have fought a battle against the incumbent English garrison in Glasgow; however, it was in Glasgow in 1305 that he was betrayed and captured before being taken to London to face torture and execution. In 19th Century the community of Wallace's Well (now Robroyston) funded the construction of a monument to the famous warrior.

The importance of Glasgow's premier clergy was elevated when the see of Glasgow was promoted to an archbishopric. Robert Blacader became the first Archbishop of Glasgow in 1492, establishing Glasgow as the second ecclesiastical city in Scotland after St Andrews.

There was a strong rivalry between St Andrews and Glasgow - not just in religious matters - as shown when Glasgow responded to the creation of a university in St Andrews in 1412, with its own institution founded in 1451. The university held classes initially within the Cathedral, before moving to a house in Rottenrow and then to a site in the High Street where it remained until the middle of the nineteenth century.

* The tree recalls when St Kentigern used a branch of hazel to ignite a tree in order to bring light to a darkened monastery in Culross.
The bird is actually a pet robin which was looked after by St Kentigern's master, St Serf. St Kentigern restored the unfortunate creature to life after it had been accidentally killed by some disciples.
The salmon, with a ring in its mouth bears evidence of St Kentigern's helpfulness in retrieving the lost ring of bride-to-be, the Queen of Cadzow, from a fish which was caught in the River Clyde.
The bell, somewhat more prosaically, signifies a bell which St Kentigern brought with him from his travels to Rome. The custom was to toll the bell to announce a death and to encourage the people to pray for the soul of the departed.

Glasgow Sights, sightseeing, culture:

Travel Guide

Many of our potential postgraduates may not be familiar with Glasgow, the West of Scotland and the reputation of the University of Strathclyde. For those of you from out with the area, we give an introduction to Glasgow, the friendly city and to Strathclyde, the friendly university.

The city which boasted "Glasgow's Miles Better" now has a new slogan: "Glasgow's Alive!" Obviously this is a city with a sense of humour - a gift which has helped it survive the good times and bad times of eight centuries.

"Glasgow is one of the funniest places on earth," claims a veteran Glasgow journalist. "It is also one of the friendliest places on earth, because people schooled in hard times acquire sympathy for other people, and the citizens are fascinated by strangers." There is no doubt the opposite is also true - that newcomers, will be fascinated by Glasgow, the city on the River Clyde which had its beginnings in a monk's cell.

According to tradition, Saint Mungo (or Kentigern) founded a community in the sixth century on the banks of the Molendinar Burn, a small tributary of the Clyde. The magnificent Cathedral of St Mungo has stood on that site since the 13th century.

Gone too is the dirt and grime, for Glasgow was quick to realise the importance of urban renewal. Over the past 12 years large areas of the city centre have undergone a transformation. Magnificent Victorian and Edwardian buildings have been sand-blasted and restored to their true colours of pale gold or pink. Much new building has taken place, tastefully blending in with the old.

Glasgow's population contains an interesting mixture. Over the centuries the city has absorbed many disparate elements - the thousands of families from the Scottish Highlands and Ireland who came looking for work, Jewish and Italian immigrants, and more recently Indians and Pakistanis. All contribute to the rich tapestry of life in Glasgow today.

Cultural Centre
Culturally the city is booming too. The King's, the Tron, the Pavilion, the Citizens ... Glasgow has a wide and varied theatre scene and many productions offer student discounts. Events such as Mayfest and the Jazz Festival have become established in the Glasgow calendar while Scotland's top cultural triad - Scottish Ballet, Scottish Opera and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra - all have their headquarters in Glasgow. The RSNO moved to a splendid new home in October 1990, when the 2,500-seat Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was opened. Glasgow is home to more than 35 museums and galleries, which include the Burrell Collection, the Art Gallery and Museum at Kelvingrove, the Museum of Transport, the People's Palace and the McLellan Galleries, while the city's Mitchell Library is the largest civic-owned reference library in Europe.

Like many other major cities, Glasgow has seen a revolution in its shopping habits over the last few years, with shopping malls taking over from traditional department stores. The most spectacular of these is the St Enoch Centre in Argyle Street, a rainproof mega shopping complex which has 270,000 square feet of shopping, parking space for 750 cars, a 450-seat food court and an ice rink. Off Buchanan Street is the more elegant Princes Square development, which has a continental atmosphere and a range of exclusive boutiques.

Recreation is well catered for in the city, with over 70 parks and many sports facilities. It comes as a surprise, however, to many first-time visitors to discover how easy it is to leave the city and explore the countryside. Some of the best hill-walking and climbing in Britain is within easy reach, and day trips are possible to Scotland's commercial ski areas - Glencoe, Glenshee, Aonach Mor and Aviemore. The Firth of Clyde is ideal for sailing, as is Loch Lomond, whose "bonny banks" are less than an hour away by train or by car.

Transport and Communications
Because Scotland is a small country, its other main cities are all within easy reach. Edinburgh, the capital, is only 45 miles away - or 45 minutes by Scot Rail. London, too, is only an hour away by air, and six hours by rail. Glasgow Airport is just 15 minutes from the city centre and is among the busiest ones in Britain, with regular flights to London and other UK cities and direct services to the rest of Europe and North America.

Glasgow is an exciting, vibrant city. Thousands of students choose to study here every year. Come and join them and find out why!

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