Rick Steves, one of my favorite travel writers, has put together a wonderful self-guided walking tour of Glasgow’s City Center (found in Rick Steves’ Snapshot Scotland), that gives a concise but thorough look at some of Glasgow’s best sights and attractions. 


Glasgow Central Station, a photo by Dave Forbes Photography on Flickr.

The whole walk takes 2-3 hours (depending on how long you linger and how many photos you take), but we can “virtually” walk the streets in a matter of minutes! I had fun clicking around Google Maps Street View, following some of the route and marveling at the beautiful architecture, all without navigating dangerous traffic or incomprehensible Glaswegian accents! “Walking” from Glasgow’s Central Station past wine lodges, hotels, shops, and churches, here are a few highlights we would come across:


The Lighthouse stairs by Effervescing Elephant
The Lighthouse stairs, a photo by Effervescing Elephant on Flickr.

The Lighthouse

Down Gordon Street and left on Mitchell is what has to be one of the most interesting water towers ever designed. Glasgow’s own darling Charles RennieMackintosh created it in 1895 as part of the Glasgow Herald newspaper office, and today it appropriately houses Scotland’s Center for Architecture and Design. The water tower is now an observation point, and the “Mack” center located below educates an admiring public about Glasgow’s most celebrated architect and designer.


Wfm goma glasgow

Royal Exchange Square

Passing along the busy shopping street called Buchanan and going under an elaborate archway, we find a public square that is dominated by the Gallery of Modern Art, GoMA, and a certain equestrian statue that exemplifies Glasgow’s peculiar sense of humor. Despite its Neoclassical façade, a quirky mosaic livens up GoMA’s look and gives a hint of the weird works found within (all created by living artists). The statue of the Duke of Wellington which stands on the square is frequently topped by an irreverent traffic cone. Hundreds of strands of Christmas lights cast a glittering net over the square each night, and are just one more proof of this city’s love of fun and beauty. 


Sunrise over George Square by shotlandka
Sunrise over George Square, a photo by shotlandka on Flickr.

George Square
George III (by Allan Ramsay)Taking a left on Queen Street we encounter another square; this one was named for King George III, but you won’t find a statue of his majesty there—even if you do see James Watts, Robert Burns, and what Steves calls a “surprisingly skinny” Queen Victoria. The square was planned out with a grand future in mind, but only came to fruition through a slow evolution from muddy slaughter yard, to residential area, to retail hub, to private garden, and finally to public space. A regal image of King George was at first intended to crown the square, but then the American Revolution (er…War of American Independence) made things go sour for Glasgow’s tobacco lords, and the king fell out of favor. So George Square was dedicated to Sir Walter Scott instead. Poor King George….

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Written by Abigail Rogers

I am twenty-two years old, a disciple of Jesus Christ, a writer, living in smalltown America, and I am a Britophile. I don't know how long I've loved Great Britain, but its people, history, landscape, and food continue to fascinate and compel me.

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