I made this place my first stop on my first day in Glasgow mainly because I wanted to see the Necropolis behind the Cathedral. However, I did stop in the Cathedral first and, as you can see by the photos, it is quite beautiful. A visit here will give you the opportunity to be in the presence of one of the few Scottish medieval churches to survive through the ages.
Take care to read your historical pamphlets and signs and you will also become well versed in the history of St. Mungo, also known as St. Kentigern, who founded a religious community on the site of the Cathedral as far back as AD590. His tomb can be seen in the lower church area of the Cathedral.
As with many historical attractions I visited in Scotland on this trip, I found the Cathedral most interesting when the 'historical layers' were brought to my attention. By that I mean I could easily view the lower walls of the nave built in the early 1200's, much of the structure of the cathedral built in the late 1200's, the Blacader Aisle built in the 1400's, alterations and preservations completed in the 1800's, and most recently the Millennium Window which was installed in 1999. I suppose I find that type of historical layering so interesting because although we do have places like that in the United States, nothing is really that old in comparison. Around here, if something dates back to the 1700's it's a huge event!
One piece of advice though... As I mentioned before I made this my first stop on my first day in Glasgow, and my first day in Scotland for that matter. If you are well traveled (which I am not) you have probably visited many churches and historical sites to the point where they probably blend together after a while. Do yourself a favor and make you FIRST stop in Scotland a pub. Sit down, enjoy a pint and friendly conversation with the locals and THEN go out and sightsee. As my husband said to me from the hilltop Necropolis behind the Cathedral, "I don't feel like I'm in Scotland yet...I could be anywhere... Let's go to a pub."
The Glasgow Cathedral is one of the few medieval Scottish churches to survive the Reformation without any damage. It's story dates back to about 590 AD, when Saint Kentigern (also called "Saint Mungo") arrived in the area to become the bishop of Strathclyde. He founded a small church on this site, which is now the location of the "lower church". His congregation (known as "Clasgu" or "dear family") grew into what eventually became the town, and then city, of Glasgow. This spot can be seen by descending a staircase in the Cathedral. The date of St. Mungo's death is given as January 13, 603. The original church was built of wood but was changed and enlarged over the next 500 years before any stonework was added. The first stone of the church was consecrated in the presence of King David I in 1136. Over the next 800 years, parts were destroyed by fire, several choirs were added, towers were built and dismantled, and stained glass windows were added. Pieces are still occasionally added to the Cathedral to this day. During the Reformation period of 1560, when many churches were looted, vandalized, and destroyed by mobs, this particular cathedral was so close to the hearts of the ordinary people of Glasgow; they took up arms to defend it themselves.
This cathedral is truly awe inspiring inside and out. The stained-glass work, stone statues, and wooden ceiling (not a single nail used!) inside will leave you feeling very humbled.
Don't miss: St. Mungo's tomb in the lower church--in the centre of the choir and below the cathedral's main altar; the faded Celtic-knotwork patterns on the three stone coffins in the lower church; and the graves and crypts outside at the back of the cathedral.
Glasgow Cathedral is a "must-see"! Admission was completely free, donations were welcomed.
Also Known As St. Mungo's after the alleged founder of the City of Glasgow. There has been a church on this site for over a millenium but the first stone building dated from the early 12th century. It's in the old part, the east part of the city. On one side is a cemetery, with gravestones set flat into the ground. The day we went was a rainy day and the grounds looked suitably gloomy with the wet stones and the smoke blackened cathedral looming up. It's not a huge cathedral but it's quite the most charming one i think i've ever been in.
The nave is open, without benches. There used to be a market in there. The stained glass was absolutely lovely and the staff was every so friendly. There was a small table with a few postcards and books on it for sale. There wasn't a lot of light filtering in either day i went due to the overcast skies which gave it even more atmosphere. The ceiling is oak beamed and intricate and the old wooden fixtures and fittings fairly glow.
The lower chuch cannot be called a crypt because it isn't below ground, The church is built on a hill. There are excavations, the shrine to the founder of Glasgow and the cathedral, St. Mungo and also a pretty little chapel dedicated to Bishop Blacader. It's worth going down there and looking around and the walking tour that you might be able to join is well worth it!
I like it far more than St. Giles in Edinburgh, it is more simply but very elegantly decorated. It seems to suit the city's personality too. Out the back and up a hill is the Necropolis, a large Victorian cemetery with a lot of interesting stones and crypts. Worth a walk through if you like that sort of thing.
Glasgow's cathedral is worth a stroll around. It has been added to over the centuries, but there has been a stone cathedral on this site since 1136 when it was dedicated in the presence of King David. The cathedral is interesting as it is on two levels, the main cathedral and the lower church.
The nave of the cathedral is a soaring 32 metres in height making the building seem much bigger inside than it looks from the exterior.
I particularly enjoyed looking around the lower church where the tomb of St Mungo (or Kentigern) can be found. The lower church was a 13th century addition to the cathedral completed by Bishop William de Bondington. Also in the lower church, you can find the Blacader Aisle, the final part of the cathedral to be built which features elaborate stonework on the ceiling.
Entry to the cathedral is free, although donations are encouraged. I bought a factsheet about the cathedral at the entrance for 20p. It worth remembering that this is a working cathedral and your visit may be postponed due to a service going on. For that reason, I wouldn't leave it till the last minute to visit here.
This place is worth a visit.
The first stone-built Glasgow Cathedral was dedicated in the presence of King David I in 1136. The present building was consecrated in 1197. Since that same period the Cathedral has never been unroofed and the worship of God has been carried out within its walls for more than 800 years.
This is a Presbyterian cathedral. It was built on the site of an older church, which in had in turn replaced the original church founded by St Kentigern (better known as St Mungo) in 543. It dates mostly from the 15th century, although some parts of the older 12th century church still remain here.
A gentleman showed us around the cathedral and told the story of St Mungo. It was worth the trip just to listen to his account of the life of Glasgow's patron saint.
I do like Cathedrals and this one is good as enny one, we did walk everywher, but we did like it best "down under" spooky.. hehehe
Did buy some postcard and a book about Scottish History for only £5, the women that did work there was nice and smiling.
Free enter :)
The Society of Friends of Glasgow Cathedral arranges events, recitals and lectures throughout the year. Details from the address below.
MON-SAT 0930-1300, 1400-1600(Until 1800 Apr-Sep)
11 am, 6:30 pm. Communion 12:15 pm on the first Sunday of every month
Apart from service times the Cathedral is open from 9.30 am to 6 pm between April and September, and between 9.30 am and 4 pm between October and March. For tourist information contact the Cathedral Office on 0141 552 6891 or visit the website
The Cathedral seems like an obvious place to visit when in Glasgow, and I definitely recommend it. Entry is free, but they ask for a donation to help maintain the structure and it's definitely worth it. We spent ages strolling around the Cathedral taking in the sites and all of the historical facts. The building is stunning and my favourite part, as in many older buildings, had to be the ceiling.
I really did love that they had so many historical plaques in there explaining how the church was used and dates. It was nice to be able to walk about without a guide and understand everything.
Even if you aren't hugely into religion or history - this place is worth a visit just for the incredible architecture and attention to detail. Myself, interested in interior design and my husband, a man in construction, both viewed the building through two different perspectives which was neat. Of course, the Necropolis (a separate review) is definitely worth a visit as well.
In my research prior to going to Glasgow, I read that this was one of the few medieval churches to survive pretty much intact from the Scottish Reformation. My thought was that the church saw the Presbyterians coming and said, “Wait, don’t destroy our church. We are Presbyterians, too.” While there may be some element of conversion involved, it seems that the church was a loved place not only of worship but center of community life and the people of Glasgow simply did not want it destroyed. Evidently the trade unions even took up arms in its defense. This affection was later attested when the people of Glasgow themselves paid for the repair of serious damage done to the church by the reformers.
Once inside the church, the first word that came to mind was “massive.” The second was “beautiful.” It is both. The patron saint is St. Mungo (aka St. Kentigern) who, according to tradition, stopped at the burial ground dedicated in the 5th Century by St. Ninian of Galloway and buried a holy man, Fergus. This became the site of a monastery founded by St. Mungo and the present cathedral, and where St. Columba is said to have come for a visit with him. The first building (ca. 1136) caught fire and was replaced in the late 12th Century. The Nave was extended in the early 14th Century with other extensions and additions in the next century.
The tomb of St. Mungo is in the lower church. He is still revered and every January 13 (the anniversary of his death in 603) a special observance is held commemorating his life.
When in Glasgow, you must visit the Cathedral. Situated on Castle St, it was begun in 1238 and is a magnificent church. While there, you must visit the Necropolis, a cemetary with many pillars, temples and obelisks. The Necropolis is dominated by an 1825 statue of John Knox.
Glasgow Cathedral is the only Scottish mainland cathedral of the middle ages to have survived the Reformation. The beautiful stained glass windows are also one of the best collections after the war. The Cathedral is thought to have been built sometime between the 13th and the 15th century.
The Cathedral is quite nice even though the exterior has been left blackened by the accumulated grime of industrial Glasgow. On the grounds are a lot of old grave stone dating back hundreds of years. Behind the Cathedral itself is the Necroplois, which is a hill covered in grave stones many of which are ornately carved.
The legend tells that St Mungo founded a community on the banks of the river Clyde in the sixth century. Glasgow Cathedral, built in the 13th century on the spot where St Mungo was buried, was the only cathedral in Scotland to survive the Reformation intact. The great Scottish patriot, Mel Gibson, is reputed to have visited the cathedral many times. Or should that be William Wallace?
Beautiful cathedral with such pretty stained glass windows and architecture which, lucky for us, escaped destruction during reformation. In the lower crypt you will find the tomb of Glasgows patron saint, St Mungo.