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Attractions Glasgow Walking Tour

If you're looking for a full walking tour of Glasgow, packed with interesting facts, stories, history and culture then look no further than the Attractions Glasgow Walking Tour. Below you can see some of the key locations of the tour, and read about them in detail. If you would like just a quick overview of the Attractions Glasgow Walking Tour, click here

The Attractions Glasgow Walking Tour lasts about five hours. If you want your walking tour to be a little shorter, then we can offer the Mini-Attractions Glasgow Walking Tour which lasts about three hours. See a quick overview of the tour here.

Learn about the origins and history of George Square, its statues and monuments, and the troubled king it was named after.

George Square

The history of the Gallery of Modern Art, and the most recognisable of Glasgow's statues.

G.O.M.A

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Merchant City

Discover some of the secrets and history of one of Glasgow's oldest and most prestigious buildings

Glasgow Cathedral

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The Necropolis

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Mercat Cross and Tolbooth Steeple

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St Andrews in the Square

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Glasgow Green Park

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The Clyde

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Subway

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Buchanan Street

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Home or Summary!

 

George Square

The first stop in our Attractions Glasgow Walking Tour is the magnificent George Square. Created in 1781, George Square is nowadays home to an important collection of statues and monuments and i where the main headquarters of Glasgow City Council is based.  It’s regarded as the centre point of the city (although Blythswood Square, 1 km to the west, technically the City’s true centre, geographically speaking). However, it wasn’t always so majestic.

 

In its early years it was little more than a muddy patchy, filled with dirty water and used for horse slaughter for the food trade. From 1825 to 1862 the square was laid out as an ornamental garden, but its use restricted to people owning houses encircling it. However, it’s subsequent enclosure angered the general public, who tore down the railings several times.

 

It became an important location due to the upsurge in Mercantile trade in the surrounding area with the Merchants House moving to the square in 1877. the square itself was then developed into a private garden for the surrounding townhouses.

 

In 1862 the corporation took over the square’s management and in 1876 George Square was opened to the public (as were the Botanic Gardens). It was named after King George III, whose statue was originally intended to occupy the centre of the square.

 

However,  turmoil and anxiety caused to the city’s Tobacco Lords by the War of American Independence in 1775 (and eventual British defeat in 1783) coupled with  George’s ever more frequent bouts of madness had created much controversy so it was decided instead that Walter Scott (the great Scottish poet and author) should be commemorated (which interestingly was the first ever memorial dedicated to him).

 

George III (born in 1738) was the first of the Hanoverian monarchs to be born in England, and speak English as his first language. Poor old George is mainly remembered for two things; going mad and losing the American colonies.  Although he was opposed their bid for independence right til the end, he wasn’t the developer of the policies (such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend duties of 1767 on tea, paper and other products) which led to war in 1775-76 and which had the support of Parliament.

 

These policies were largely implemented to cover financial burden of garrisoning and administering the huge expanses of American territory  brought under the British Crown. No to mention trying to the costs of a series of wars with France and Spain in North America, and the loans given to the East India Company. By the 1770s, the national debt required an annual revenue of £4 million to service it - at a time when there was no income tax.

 

After serious  passages of sickness between 1788-89 and again in 1801, George was considered  permanently deranged in 1810. He was considered good family man (with an impressive 15 children) and remained throughout his life devoted to his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. It was her he bought the Queen’s House - which later enlarged, and became Buckingham Palace.

You can hear more about George Square and it's statues and monuments from your private guide, with your Attractions Glasgow Walking Tour. To see a short summary of tour, click here. To go ahead and book your walking tour in Glasgow click here.

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G.O.M.A

What once was the Royal Exchange is now better known as the Gallery of Modern Art. The is regarded as architect David Hamilton's masterpiece and dates from 1829. However it was built around an earlier building;  a lavish mansion house which had been erected by the great tobacco merchant, William Cunningham in 1778.

It’s situated on the obviously named Royal Exchange Square, in front of Queen Street which Cunningham renamed in honour of Charlotte, the wife of George III. Hamilton’s rear addition, which was built on the former garden, holds the main hall featuring a beautifully decorated arched ceiling (some say that it’s more beautiful than some of the modern art works on display!)

 

Wishing to retire to his country estate Cunningham sold the building to William Sterling, a textile merchant who used it partly as a warehouse. The old house was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1817, who occupied it for 10 years until they moved to newly built premises. Subsequently a collective of merchants got together to buy it and turn it into a Royal Exchange – where merchants would gather and exchange goods, much like the stock market today.

 

For the next 100 years, the building traded in luxury consumable goods such as tobacco, sugar, rum, molasses, as well as coal and iron. Later on its evolution the building became Glasgow City’s first telephone exchange, then a restaurant and subsequently the Stirling Library from 1954. The building became Glasgow's Museum of Modern Art (GOMA) in 1996.

 

Even more famous than GOMA is the statues that stands in front of it. It’s visitation is at the heart of any walking tour of Glasgow. The equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington was sculpted by Baron Marochetti. It was unveiled on 8th October 1844 to an invited audience of Waterloo veterans.  The 2011 Lonely Planet guide included the monument in the "top 10 most bizarre monuments on Earth".

 

However, a soldier on horseback isn’t what makes it bizarre. Topping Wellington’s head with a traffic cone has become a traditional practice in the city, representative of the humour of the local people. No one knows exactly when the practice began, but it’s believed to date back to the  early 1980’s.

 

Though born in Dublin Wellington never considered himself Irish, claiming that "because a man is born in a stable it does not make him a horse". As a young man he wanted to pursue his love of music. However, he followed his mother’s expectations and joined a Highland regiment. His expert generalship during the Napoleonic Wars earned him his Dukedom title.

 

His career peak was after the victory at the Battle of  Waterloo (the bloodshed of which caused him great upset), after which he retired from the battlefield aged 46. He was one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain, serving twice as Prime Minister. This is perhaps less known than one of his most unusual achievements -  he was the originator of the humble Wellington boot.


After a series of seizures, Wellington, or ‘The Iron Duke’ died in September 1852. He was subsequently buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

 

Merchant City

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Glasgow Cathedral

Next stop on our Walking Tour of Glasgow is Glasgow Cathedral. The first stone-built version of Glasgow Cathedral was consecrated circa 1136, with Bishop John  (1117-1147) in the presence of King David I. It was subsequently severely damaged and destroyed beyond repair by fire, and so was replaced by a larger version consecrated in 1197, now under the responsibility of Bishop Jocelyn (1177-1199). It was Bishop Jocelyn we have to thanks for the creation of the July ‘Glasgow Fair’, which is l observed as an annual holiday to this day.

 

As we move into the 15th century, Glasgow grew both in size and and in importance as a religious centre, becoming an archbishopric (the office of an archbishop) by 1492.  At that time, it was a Catholic cathedral and such was the growth in Glasgow’s religious significance, that the Pope declared a pilgrimage to Glasgow as worthy as one to Rome! At that time, Scotland  maintained strong political links with both Italy and France.

Then came the Reformation, which changed the nature of Scottish religion.

 

One a technical note, it could be argues that the building is no longer a cathedral, since it has not been the seat of a bishop since 1690. However, It is still very much an active place of Christian worship, hosting Church of Scotland congregations.

 

Post reformation, the internal structure of the cathedral underwent a number of changes, to create separate spaces for different congregations. A wall was erected across the nave to allow its western portion to be used for worship by a congregation which became known as the ‘Outer High’, who worshiped in the nave from 1647 until 1835.

 

A congregation known as the Barony (the Church of Scotland) were housed in the The Lower Church from 1596-1801, until a new church was built for their use just across from the Cathedral. Once the Lower Church was no longer used for worship, about five feet of earth was carried in, in order for the space to become the burial place for members of the Barony Congregation. The Lower Church was cleared before the middle of the 19th century.The congregation which used the Choir was known as the Inner High. The pulpit and the King’s Seat were relocated in a major renovation in 1805.

 

Originally there were four entrances to the Cathedral. The most impressive was the great processional west door. It was only permitted to be used on certain days in the calendar, such as St Kentigern’s feast day (13 Jan), and even then, only by VIP’s. The south door - the one visitors use today, was the typical entrance for ordinary people in medieval times. At the eastern end there are a further two doors giving access to the crypt.

 

The stained glass above transepts is ‘Munich Glass’ and dates back to the 1860s. It was supplied to complete a new set of windows in Victorian times. In Glasgow between 1930-60s almost all Munich glass was removed, perhaps due to fading or pollution.The roof is much more modern - it dates to the early 20th century.

 

You can hear some of these stories and more from your private guide, with your Attractions Glasgow Walking Tour. To see a short summary of tour, click here. To go ahead and book your walking tour in Glasgow click here.

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The Necropolis

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Mercat Cross & Tollbooth Steeple

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St Andrews

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Glasgow Green Park

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The Clyde

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The Subway

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Buchanan St

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