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9 Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Glasgow

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Park Circus and Kelvingrove Park © Glasgow Life

Park Circus and Kelvingrove Park © Glasgow Life

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and a true gem when it comes to art, culture, music and more. This November, it will play host to the biggest climate change conference of our generation, COP26.

But how well do you really know this city? Even if you’re a seasoned visitor, there is a whole host of history and exciting things to uncover. Here are a few facts about Glasgow you can share with friends, and might just inspire your next short trip.

1. The city is home to an incredible sporting history

Glasgow boasts a range of extraordinary venues which have hosted an array of events, festivals, concerts and more. Recently there have been many spectacular sporting events hosted here.

The Emirates Arena is home to world-class facilities, including an athletics track which became a training base for Scottish runner, Laura Muir, who moved to the city when she was studying Veterinary Medicine at Glasgow University, the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, and more.

If you want to try out some sports yourself, why not try wakeboarding and paddleboarding at Pinkston – where else could you enjoy watersports in the heart of a city?!

Did you know the first International Association Football game was played in Glasgow? Scotland and England kicked off in 1872 at the West of Scotland Cricket Club with the matching ending in a 0-0 draw.

In 2014, Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games across various venues and sites in the city, including the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Celtic Park, Ibrox Stadium, Cathkin Braes, and Hampden Park, to name a few. It was the largest multi-sport and cultural event ever held in Scotland, with 7,000 athletes and team officials.

2. Glasgow’s Gaelic name is Glaschu, meaning ‘Green Space’

Historically, the city is known as the ‘dear green place’, and with over 90 parks and gardens, you can see why! From Kelvingrove Park in the West End and Pollok Country Park in the south, to Glasgow Necropolis in the east and the Forth and Clyde Canal in the north, you won’t be lost for scenic green spots to relax in on a visit to Glasgow. Or if you fancy a day trip, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is just a 40 minute drive north.

3. Glasgow is a recognised UNESCO City of Music

The UK’s first UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow has a big title to live up to, and it does just that. The city is bursting at the seams with lively music venues which host a range of musicians, performers and events throughout the year. In Glasgow, the Barrowland Ballroom is one of city’s most iconic music venues, and features glowing neon signage that people recognise the world over.

There are many fascinating facts and snippets of history that you can find throughout the venue, but one that feels close to home has to be the interior stairs. You’ll spot writing on the stairs in the ballroom; they are in fact lyrics. In 2014, famed Ayrshire band, Biffy Clyro, performed over 80 songs across three nights. An incredible achievement which is now honoured with their lyrics written all the way up the Barrowland’s interior stairs.

Elsewhere, Glasgow’s popular Britannia Panopticon is the world’s oldest surviving music hall. That’s quite an honour to hold!

4. Europe’s first commercially successful steamship was built in Glasgow

Glasgow has produced its fair share of celebrities, brainiacs, established historians, writers, engineers and more throughout the centuries, and their achievements continue to contribute to daily life around the world.

In 1800, engineer Henry Bell submitted plans to build the first steam-propelled vessel. Up until this point, ships were only fuelled by wind and currents. 12 years later at Port Glasgow, Bell launched his own steamship, the Comet, which created a trade in passengers and freight on the Clyde for many years, and was so successful it opened up an entire new era in transportation.

At one point in the 1900s it is said that 1/5 of all the world’s ships were built on the Clyde. If you want to get up close to a merchant ship, why not visit Tall Ship Glenlee? Hop aboard the last remaining 3 masted Clyde-built ship still afloat in the UK and enjoy a guide tour, learning all about the ship and its history as you go.

5. Glasgow has appeared in many blockbuster films and TV shows

As you wander around Glasgow remember to look up and admire the incredible architecture and stunning buildings, so it’s no surprise the city’s streets and famed structures have been the backdrop to a fair few movie moments.

More recently, Glasgow has starred in the new Batman film, featuring Robert Pattinson, as the renowned Gotham City. In 2022, a new Indiana Jones movie is set to grace our screens, where we will see a modern Glasgow transformed into 1960s New York. Not forgetting one of the most intense films shot in the city, the Brad Pitt zombie apocalypse movie World War Z, with the outbreak starting in George Square and surrounding city centre streets.

There are plenty more where that came from! Find more movie set locations across Glasgow that you can visit.

6. Glasgow has one of the most expensive collections of art in the world

Gallery of Modern Art and Wellington Statue with a traffic cone on his head

Gallery of Modern Art and Wellington Statue with a traffic cone on his head

There are many art museums and galleries across the city, and together they make up one of the most expensive collections in the world. Many of the art galleries in Scotland are free to enter too!

The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is a staggering building, and boasts a variety of world-class displays to admire.

The Hunterian Museum is the oldest public museum in Scotland and is an ever-changing gallery, featuring incredible collections of fine art, paintings, science and more.

Stop by the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which is home to 22 themed, state-of-the-art galleries displaying an astonishing 8000 objects. The displays here are extensive and include many themes and topics, such as natural history, arms and armour, art from many art movements and periods of history.

7. Charles Rennie Mackintosh is Scotland’s most celebrated architect

A name you may have heard associated with Glasgow’s incredible architecture and buildings, is Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Born in Glasgow, and student of Glasgow School of Art, Mackintosh is famed for his intricate creative designs that you can see at many locations, attractions and buildings across the city. Head to Mackintosh at the Willow, which features the original 1903 designs, where you can pick up some memorabilia of his creations after tucking into afternoon tea. Or visit House for an Art Lover in Bellahouston Park where you can admire the magnificent exterior, before exploring the breathtaking interior rooms that are filled with recognisable Mackintosh motifs.

Elsewhere in the city there are many other examples of striking architecture. The Glasgow Tower is the only structure on Earth that has the ability to rotate 360 degrees into prevailing wind, and it holds the Guinness World Record for tallest fully rotating freestanding structure in the world.

The City Chambers has been home to the Glasgow City Council since 1996 and was built using more marble than the Vatican. Head on a tour to see for yourself – they’re free!

8. There are trees in Glasgow older than the dinosaurs

If you head to Glasgow’s Victoria Park, Fossil Grove features 11 ancient trees. Dating all the way back to the Carboniferous Period, these fossilised tree stumps come in at 330 million years old – that’s twice as old as the dinosaurs!

The city also boasts dozens of historic buildings that date back centuries, from Glasgow Cathedral, the oldest church on mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow, to the University of Glasgow, the second oldest university in Scotland after St Andrews, and founded in 1451.

9. Glasgow has been recognised as a Global Green City

Although it is Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow has many eco-friendly ways you can travel around to see the sights, all whilst keeping an eye on your carbon footprint.

There are many walking routes and tours around the city that allow you to see all of that incredible history, art and architecture up close, as well as there being various cycling schemes and trails across Glasgow too. At 67 locations across the city, there are over 500 OVO Bikes available for hire, so you can scoot around from one attraction to the next.

Glasgow’s underground is another way to travel that is more eco-friendly than driving. Did you know, this underground railway system is often referred to as the ‘Clockwork Orange’, due to its colour, and is the third oldest underground railway system in the world?

We hope this has given you some insight to the wonderful city of Glasgow and that you learned something new. There is more to this city that meets the eye. Book a short break or city stay in Glasgow and you’ll be met with plenty of exciting things to see, do and explore on your doorstep.

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