As many people know, I’m currently based in the city of Glasgow (although soon to be uprooting!). But I was thinking the other day about how I don’t actually write that much about this beautiful city. I think Glasgow is often overlooked in comparison to cities like Edinburgh, however, Glasgow is a city rich with history and culture. To help showcase all of the wonderful things Glasgow has to offer tourists, today we’re looking at two of Glasgow’s best attractions: the Glasgow Necropolis and Glasgow Cathedral.
The Glasgow Necropolis is a Victorian graveyard and the final resting place for many of Glasgow’s most prominent citizens. It is home to 3,500 tombs and over 50,000 burials have taken place on the site. The Glasgow Necropolis has always been interdenominational and was one of the few cemeteries of the time to actually keep records of the individuals buried there.
The winding paths of the Necropolis take you up the hill and past some very elaborate tombstones. Gravestones were very important to Victorians and tombs were much more elaborate than tombs from other time periods. This is because in Victorian times, tombs were seen as a sign of family wealth. Prominent individuals and their families would spend large sums of money making sure they had impressive looking tombs in the cemeteries. The graves were also an everlasting monument to the individual and helped to preserve the family name.
While most of the tombs belong to merchants and other prominent citizens of Glasgow, there are a few recognizable graves. One of the most notable is the tomb of Charles Tennant, the Scottish industrialist who is responsible for discovering bleaching powder. His tomb depicts Tennant himself sitting and looking out over the city.
There are also memorials to some other recognizable Scots including the monument to John Knox (a leader of the Scottish Reformation) and William Miller, author of the children’s poem Wee Willie Winkie. There are also monuments designed by famous artists, such as Glasgow’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The great thing about the Glasgow Necropolis, is that like so many Glasgow attractions, it is free! Not only are the tombstones and monuments wonderful to see, but the walk to the top of the hill also provides a nice view over Glasgow and the surrounding area.
From the top of the hill you also get an excellent view of Glasgow Cathedral, which is only a few steps away from the graveyard and also free to visit.
Glasgow Cathedral is an impressive medieval building that is the only cathedral in Scotland to have not been destroyed during the Scottish Reformation. The first part of the cathedral was built in the 12th century, and has been a place of worship for over 800 years. Legend also says that the cathedral is built on the site where St. Mungo (the founder and patron saint of Glasgow) is buried. The cathedral would have originally been Catholic and was the seat of the Archbishop of Glasgow. The cathedral played a part in the Battles of Glasgow, but unlike many other Scottish churches, was never de-roofed. After the Protestant Reformation the cathedral remained the seat of the bishop until 1680, and today remains a place of worship and belongs to the Church of Scotland.
The inside of the cathedral is extremely impressive, in fact, probably one of the most impressive cathedrals I’ve seen in Scotland. The Nave retains many of the original features, including the roof, and is home to a unique collection of post-war stain glass windows. The original sections of the roof are believed to date back to the 14th century and is certainly something for any historian to see.
My favourite part of the Glasgow Cathedral is the the crypt, where supposedly the remains of St. Mungo lie. As you walk down the stairs, it’s actually a bit spooky (which could be fun for kids!) and you can view the Tomb of St. Mungo. It is not known for certain whether or not this is the actual burial place of St. Mungo, but whether it is or not, it is still an important religious and historical site.
The Glasgow Necropolis and Cathedral are only a short walk away from the Glasgow city centre, and well worth checking out if in the area. It’s always the first attraction I take visitors to, and if you get a nice day it really is one of the best things to see in the city. Due to the Protestant Reformation, it is rare to find a religious building in Scotland that retains original features. The Glasgow Cathedral is especially a must-see for those looking to experience Pre-Reformation religious history in Scotland.