It’s been years since I last visited Glasgow and I’d only made flying visits while en route elsewhere, so I was quite excited to see the place again and get a chance to explore it more.
Rob and I arrived in the afternoon and spent the time around the city centre. The first obvious thing that struck us was just how fantastic the architecture is, with loads of examples on every street (and relatively little modern infill). This also feeds in to the open feeling of the main shopping thoroughfares, which are almost boulevard-like in their breadth (and unlike most of the city centre in Manchester where we live).
After a late lunch and a look round Royal Exchange Square, we started off with a visit to GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art). Unfortunately, two out of the four galleries were closed for re-display, which limited the amount we could see. The setting was great, but I didn’t find the content as compelling as I’d hoped, although some of the choices in the “Ballet of the Palette” exhibition, where 20th century artworks had been chosen by other contemporary artists, were interesting.
Still, next was a stop at the Glasgow City Chambers, which certainly did impress. Due to it being a working building, access is restricted to part of the ground floor, but that was more than worth it. A slightly dour entrance hall leads on to two side halls, both with sweeping staircases, intricate marblework and design. And, to avoid too much symmetry, the stonework on the two sides was of different colour and hue. Truly stunning.
We then found our way to The Lighthouse, a building originally designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the famous Scottish architect, designer and artist. The building originally housed a warehouse for the Glasgow Herald newspaper and the tower which gives the centre its name was originally a huge water tank, to prevent fire in the warehouse. After the newspaper left its home in the 1980s, the building fell into disrepair until rescued in the late 90s. Extended with modern elements, the building now houses design firms and exhibition spaces, including a great display about the life and work of Mackintosh himself and costumes inspired by his designs.
The highlight for me was a climb up the spiral staircases within the Lighthouse tower and a chance to stand at its top looking out over the city. It’s not the highest view or possibly even the most distinctive, but it certainly gave a feel for the spread of the city, its grand buildings and avenues and how its elements fit together.
Top and bottom of the spiral staircase:
Views from the top: