Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland. With just over 600,000 inhabitants Glasgow is even bigger than Scottish capital Edinburgh.
The history of Glasgow started in the 4th century AD, when St. Ninian blessed the location of the current Glasgow Cathedral. William Wallace (maybe better known as Braveheart thanks to Mel Gibson) beat the English in 1300 in the Battle at the Bell O'The Brea, which nowadays is at the end of Glasgow’s High Street.
Bishop Turnbull founded the University of Glasgow in 1451. Near current Queen’s Park, in 1568 Mary, Queen of the Scots (escaped from Loch Leven) gathered an army to fight her enemies. Mary's army was badly defeated at Langside, on the outskirts of Glasgow.
At the beginning of the 17th century, tobacco, sugar, rum and cotton trade from the American colonies caused a huge increase in population. The American War of Independence therefore would have meant recession, but the smart Glaswegians had anticipated by diversifying their interests. Helped by the first steps of the Industrial Revolution, the city on the banks of the river Clyde entered the 19th century in bloom. The urban area was specialised in fabrics, iron, chemicals and coal. The bright economical conditions left behind some breathtakingly beautiful Victorian architecture.
Well into the 20th century, Greater Glasgow and the Clyde Valley continued on the track of welfare, developing into one of the world’s foremost ship builders’ centres. After 1945, the post-war period struck depression on Glasgow, but the last few decades the tide has turned, helped by the city’s celebrated history. The new economy consists of tourism and services.
Contrary to the classy capital Edinburgh, Glasgow is a city of workers. Yet the latter is but a grey industrial collection of concrete constructions and smoking factories. Its streets are full of impressive Victorian buildings and modern shops, while its cultural life is Scotland’s most sparkling.
Sir Walter Scott stands in the heart of Glasgow, on George Square. The Scottish writer got his place on the honorary column instead of the square’s name giver, the English king George III.
Although the city’s history goes back into the early Middle Ages, in the eighteenth century nearly all buildings have been replaced by Victorian constructions. Glasgow is full of theatres, concert arenas, and shops, with many Icelandic shoppers journeying from Reykjavik.
The main old building is the Glasgow Cathedral in Castle Street, which likely is the most beautiful gothic construction in Scotland. Its 12th century crypt contains St. Mungo’s grave, the saint who probably established a bishopric here. At the square directly in front of the cathedral one can visit the Glasgow Necropolis where rich Victorian merchants are buried. The Bridge of Sighs was built in 1833 and was named after the better-known crossing in Venice. Glasgow’s oldest house is also located at the square: the 1471 Provand’s Lordship used to be a hospital but now contains a museum in furniture and antique.
The centre of town is George Square, with its statues of Sir Walter Scott and eleven other celebrities, among which Queen Victoria, James Watt and Robert Burns. George Square hosts the Bank of Scotland, the Merchant’s House and the Head Post Office, all 19th century buildings.
Recommendable museums include the Art Gallery and Museum (Kelvingrove Park, with many French impressionists), Pollok House (1752, with El Greco and Francisco Goya), children’s museum Haggs Castle and the Museum of Transport. According to wertperch, Glasgow's most unusual house should definitely be mentioned here: House for an Art Lover, designed by Glasgow's best-known architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Contemporary celebrities originating from Glasgow involve comedian/actor Billy Connolly, actor Robert Carlyle, musician Howie B, and authors Grant Morrison, John Byrne and Booker Prize winner James Kelman.
Glasgow is located in the middle of Scotland, around 75km west of Edinburgh. To view its exact location, you can visit http://www.lonelyplanet.com/mapshells/europe/scotland/scotland.htm.