Glasgow is a city of contrasts. On the one hand, Scotland’s largest city is home to a large number of houses built in smart Victorian style. On the other, this is a city whose industrial past continues to be an essential part of it. At the same time, Glasgow is also known for shining glass and steel structures from a more recent date. An example of the latter is the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, the Clyde Auditorium of which was designed by the renowned Sir Norman Foster.
If there is one particular style that Glasgow is more well-known for than others, however, it is probably Art Nouveau. Glaswegians, the inhabitants of Glasgow, are proud of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. An architect, designer and artist, Mackintosh was one of the prominent figures of Art Nouveau. He and his wife, Margaret MacDonald, both played leading roles in the forming of the so-called Glasgow School. One of the more unique parts of the heritage of the Mackintoshs is the so-called House for an Art Lover (see below under Do Not Miss).
Most of today’s Glasgow dates from the 19th century, or later, but the city traces its roots to Roman times. Around 80 A.D., a series of fortresses were built by the Romans where Glasgow is now located. It took another 500 years before St Mungo founded an early settlement by the River Clyde, and yet another 600 years before King William made Glasgow a Burgh.
In the 18th century, Glasgow developed into a major port, largely due to successful tobacco trade with Virginia in the United States. At the same time, shipbuilding grew into an important industry in what would eventually develop into a very important city in the British Empire. In 1811, Glasgow was the second largest city in Britain (after London).
For avid cruisers, an interesting fact is that The Cunard Shipping Line was founded in Glasgow. Several of the line’s ships were also built here, including the iconic liners Queen Mary and QE2.
Cruise ships with Glasgow on the agenda dock at Greenock, some 24 miles/39 kilometres from Scotland’s largest city. Located where the River Clyde expands into the Firth of Clyde, Greenock was established as a small fishing village sometime prior to the 1590s. Easily accessible from the cruise terminal, the town is a good alternative for anyone interested in shopping.
The cruise terminal is situated within easy walking distance to central Greenock, some 0.3 miles/0.5 kilometres from the town centre. Tourist information, shuttle services and taxis are available quayside.
Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, is also available on cruises calling at Greenock. The distance to Edinburgh is some 76 miles/122 kilometres.
- People’s Palace is Glasgow’s museum of social history, telling the story of the people and the city of Glasgow from 1750 to the present day. On display are photographs, paintings and prints, as well as historic artefacts. Next door to the People’s Palace is the Winter Gardens, featuring exotic palms and plants.
- For more plants, consider visiting Glasgow Botanic Gardens in the city’s West End district. Well-known for its plant collections from around the world, the Botanic Garden includes several glasshouses. Among them is the Kibble Palace Glasshouse from the 19th century.
- Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of the most well-known Glaswegians ever. Why not take the opportunity to get to know him and the Art Nouveau style that he is chiefly associated with? You will have several possibilities to do so. One of them is the House for an Art Lover, a unique building designed by Mackintosh in 1901 but completed only in 1996. The Glasgow School of Art is considered his masterpiece. For an overview of the works of the architect, visit the Hunterian Art Gallery. Or take tea while imbibing Mackintosh’s architecture from the early 20th century at The Willow Tea Rooms. For an overview of Mackintosh, visit theCharles Rennie Mackintosh Society.
- Another possibility for afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones and cake is Miss Cranston’s Tearooms.
- St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art takes its name from Glasgow’s patron saint, St Mungo. Through artefacts and works of art, the museum explores the importance of religions across the world.
- Located close to the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Provand’s Lordship is the oldest house in Glasgow. Originally part of a hospital, the house was built in 1471.
- Another must-see in close vicinity to the St Mungo Museum as well as Provand’s Lordship is the Glasgow Cathedral. An early Cathedral was established in 1136, but the present one dates from 1197. The Cathedral has one of the finest post-war collections of stained glass windows in Britain.
- In case you haven’t quite made up your mind of what to see when in Glasgow, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum might be something for you. With 22 different themed galleries displaying some 8,000 objects ranging from arms and armour to natural history, Kelvingrove is sure to have something for almost everyone. The red sandstone building is built in the Victorian style that Glasgow is famous for.
- With its compact city centre, Glasgow is a shopper’s delight – irrespectively of what you are looking for.
- Now that you’re in Scotland (or planning to go there) you should not miss the opportunity to sample the whisky that the country is famous for. Two of the most accessible distilleries when in Glasgow are Auchentoschan and Glengoyne. Both distilleries offer tours and tastings.
- If you’re into golf, you have come to the right place. There is a large number of courses in and around Glasgow, with something for every level of ability.
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Several different shore excursions can be available in and around Greenock and Glasgow. Examples include:
- Excursions to Glasgow, by coach or private car, will not only provide a taste of Scotland’s largest city, but can also take in some of the attractions mentioned above, under Do Not Miss. Excursions focusing on Greenock and the surrounding area can also be available.
- At Falkirk, east of Glasgow, experience the Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first rotating boatlift that joins the Forth & Clyde Canal (running from Glasgow) with Edinburgh’s Union Canal.
- Some shore excursions will take participants north of the city. Here, experience not only the scenery at Loch Lomond (known as the Queen of Scottish Lakes) and the Kilpatrick Hills, but also the Glengoyne Distillery (see also above, under Do Not Miss). Some excursions will continue to the Inveraray Castle, built in 1770 on the site of a 15th century fortress.
- Stirling Castle can be featured on some shore excursions. Located some 28 miles/45 kilometres east of Glasgow, the castle was the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots and also featured in the movie Braveheart.
Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh is located 52 miles/83.5 kilometres east of Glasgow. The distance to London is some 400 miles/640 kilometers.
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com