Katia Fernandez Mayo January 19 2017

I have been to Glasgow many times … well, I’ve been to Glasgow Airport many times! My limited knowledge of the city has always been contrived by travel, yet every time I have passed through I have been tempted to explore a bit more of Glasgow, as its incredible architecture proves a striking contrast with its sister city Edinburgh.

In order to remedy my Glasgow ignorance, I spent a day in this great city. I was interested in visiting some alternative sites that aren’t always top of the Lonely Planet guide.

After a swift 50 minute train journey from Edinburgh, I made my way towards Glasgow Cathedral, located just a short walk from Queen Street Station. On this very chilly November morning, the cathedral felt like a true refuge for my frozen hands. The 13th-century Gothic structure stands in what was the original centre of Glasgow, and it is a remarkably well-preserved building: candle-lit high stone walls, vaulted ceilings and a long nave create a relaxing shelter to the hustle and bustle of the city.

On a hill behind the  Cathedral lies the Necropolis, a 37-acre Victorian cemetery, packed with unique monuments and sculptures that commemorate the 50,000 people that are buried there. While the term “Necropolis” does give the cemetery an eerie character, in truth, is it a lovely and quiet green area which provides beautiful views towards the Cathedral below and the city which extends past it.

After a leisurely walk around the Necropolis, I headed back towards the city centre and hopped on the subway towards the West End. Once in Hillhead, I walked down Ashton Lane – a quirky cobbled backstreet with local pubs and restaurants. I then made my way towards Glasgow University. Established in 1451, the university is the fourth oldest in the UK.

If I am honest, one of the main reasons why I moved to Scotland was because I saw some photos of Glasgow University! The central buildings are stunning – grand, Gothic structures with towers, gardens and a Hogwarts-like resemblance.

Part of Glasgow University’s central buildings is The Hunterian Museum which holds collections by Dr William Hunter – an 18th century anatomist – as well as an archaeological exhibition about the Roman Antonine Wall.

Across from this building is the Hunterian Art Gallery and Mackintosh House. Disappointingly, I didn’t have time to visit Mackintosh House, but I would love to go back and admire the collections of the famous Scottish Art Nouveau architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

For lunch, I headed to Òran Mór – a converted church and an incredible venue at the top of Byres Road, which hosts A Play, a Pie and a Pint – a very popular lunchtime theatre show which includes a drink (a pint or glass of wine) and a pie. I saw a play called Hameldaeme, written by the Glaswegian writer Damian Mullen. It was excellent – both sad and hilarious, with a very Glaswegian-like humour.

Having been well-fed, well-wined, and well-entertained, I strolled towards the Botanic Gardens and enjoyed a short crisp autumnal walk before heading back down towards the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. I made a brief stop at Kember and Jones, a small bistro and bakery on Byres Road which was recommended by my colleague Sine (who resides in Glasgow’s West End). I had a Moroccan peppermint tea and a ginger loaf topped with lemon icing which instantly warmed me up for the rest of my walk past Kelvingrove Park.

The park is located on the River Kelvin and leads towards Kelvingrove Art Gallery. The gallery’s architecture is also remarkable, with its very noticeable red sandstone, high towers and Baroque decorations. The collection of the gallery is impressive too, displaying many artworks by European and Scottish masters as well as other historical objects.

The gallery completed my tour of Glasgow’s West End, so I hopped back into the subway and in less than 10 minutes, I was back in the city centre. Buchanan Street, George Square and the surrounding streets were busy (as they have always been when I have passed through Glasgow).

I walked down Ingram Street, admiring the tall and imposing Neoclassical buildings in the city centre, towards Merchant Square. The Square is located within a Victorian building with a covered courtyard; it has various stylish bars, cafes and restaurants inside.

Still mesmerised by Glasgow’s architectural heritage, I made my way back to Queen Street Station. It is precisely the distinctive architecture, so different from Edinburgh, that I loved the most about Glasgow. I am already planning my next trip to explore more of the city and its beautiful buildings!

Katia Fernandez Mayo

P.S. Inspired to experience glorious Glasgow for yourself? We’d be delighted to incorporate it into any of our self drive itineraries. Alternatively, Scotland’s largest city is the perfect place to soak up some culture before a walking holiday on the West Highland WayJohn Muir Way or Rob Roy Way – all of which are easily accessible from the city.

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