It is free to enter Glasgow cathedral, though you can make a donation towards its upkeep. The grave of St Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow and founder of the first church at this site, is located in the lower chapel of the cathedral.
Glasgow cathedral has some beautiful stained glass windows. It also houses several impressive tombs.
There is a small gift shop in the cathedral.
Cathedral Opening Times:
Summer (April to September)
Weekdays between 9.30am and 5.30pm
Saturdays between 9.30am and 5.30pm
Sundays between 1.00pm and 5.00pm
Winter (October to March)
Weekdays between 10:00 am and 4.00 pm
Saturdays between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm
Sundays between 1.00pm and 4:00 pm
Glasgow Cathedral is located right next to Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Glasgow Royal Infirmary was designed by Robert and James Adam. It opened in December 1794. It was built on land that once held the ruins of the Bishop's Castle. This castle dated from the thirteenth century but had been allowed to fall into disrepair.
When I was a university student, I took a summer job as a cleaner in the nurses' home of Glasgow Royal Infirmary. One of my jobs was to push the dirty bedding in a huge trolley to the hospital's laundry room. Someone had to accompany me at first as the laundry room was in an underground tunnel. It was easy to get lost there and I was told it linked up with escape tunnels the monks used to use if the cathedral was attacked.
Glasgow Royal Infirmary has a few staff members a bit more famous than me though. One of them was Joseph Lister. Joseph Lister became an assistant surgeon at the Infirmary In 1856 and a professor of surgery in 1860. While running the new surgery block, he noticed that almost half of his patients died from sepsis. Lister had read Louis Pasteur's paper on rotting and fermentation caused by micro-organisms. He experimented with ways of preventing sepsis. This lead to using carbolic acid to clean surgical instruments and hands before and after surgery. Lister's methods were picked up around the world. He is now thought of as "the father of modern antisepsis".
Glasgow's beautiful cathedral building is the Cathedral of St Mungo.
In the fifth century St. Ninian came from Galloway and dedicated a Christian burial ground at Cathures which later became Glasgow.
St Mungo was born in Fife near Culrosse in the sixth century. He was brought up by St. Serf and trained for the priesthood. Eventually Mungo left St. Serf and came to Carnock in Stirlingshire. He had to accompany the corpse of a holy man, Fergus. The corpse was carried on a cart by two untamed oxen. They stopped at St. Ninian’s burial ground in Cathures and the corpse was buried there. St Mungo founded a church there. He died on the13th of January, 603. His tomb is located in the Lower Church of the Cathedral.
The first stone building on the site of the present cathedral was consecrated in about 1136 in the presence of King David I and his Court. At this point John was Bishop of Glasgow. This building was later destroyed in a fire. A new cathedral was consecrated in 1197, during the time of Bishop Jocelyn who started the Glasgow Fair.
Glasgow Cathedral is the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland to have survived the Protestant Reformation of 1560 almost intact. It is located on Castle Street. The best views of it picturewise are from the nearby Necropolis.
I got out of Buchanan Bus Station and walked east along cathedral street for about 10’ (under the rain wasn’t the most pleasant walk), at the far end I reached the Glasgow Cathedral (in reality this area was the original centre of Glasgow)
At 8.15am the cathedral was closed so I couldn’t check the interior but still I spent some time taking some photos of the head church of the diocese of Glasgow which is also known as the High Kirk of Glasgow or St Mungo’s Cathedral after the patron saint of Glasgow (his tomb is in the lower crypt as they say, have in mind he died back in 614AD and the site became a pilgrimage spot).
It was built during 12th century in Scottish Gothic style, the first stone structure was completed in 1136 but destroyed by fire and the cathedral we see today was actually completed in 1197. This is actually the only medieval cathedral in Scottish mainland to have survived the Protestant Reformation of 1560 which is a small miracle considering the vandalism in other catholic churches. Of course any connection with Pope stopped and was used as a parish kirk so technically it is no longer a cathedral since 1690.
Free Admission but donations are welcome
From April to September the cathedral is open 9.30-17.30 (Sundays 13.00-17.00)
From October to March the cathedral is open 10.00-16.00 (Sundays 13.00-16.00)
The statue in front of the cathedral is David Livingstone (1813-1873), a national hero for Victorian Britain and a pioneer medical missionary and explorer in Africa. Most probably you have heard the popular quotation of H.M.Stanley “Dr.Livingstone, I presume?” from their meeting in 1871.
Thanks to the Tobacco Lords and other city merchants, the centre of Glasgow is located around George Square, but the city originated around the Cathedral, a bit further to the east.
The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Kentigern, or St. Mungo as the locals prefer to call him. He chose the spot where the Cathedral now stands to carry out his missionary work and is credited with performing four miracles that included a bird, a tree, a bell, and a fish. These four symbols and a poem about them are included in the city’s Coat of Arms which I described in my review of The City Chambers. St. Mungo died in AD 614 and is supposedly buried under the tomb that lies in the Crypt.
His burial site became a place of pilgrimage and by the 12th century it was decided to build a resting place more worthy of a man who is regarded as the founder of Glasgow. The first stone church was dedicated on 7th July 1136 but was destroyed by fire shortly afterwards. A replacement was consecrated in 1197 and during the 13th century was substantially enlarged.
Amazingly, this predominantly medieval gothic church survived the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, and although there have been changes during its lifetime, the official guidebook tells us that it’s the “only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland to survive virtually complete”.
Reading this guidebook reminded me that the Cathedral is not owned by the Church, but by the Crown and cared for by Historic Scotland, a similar organisation to English heritage.
Highlights inside are the three storey Nave, the Pulpitum, Choir, Blacader Aisle and of course the Crypt with the tomb of St. Mungo.
Not being a religious person, I enjoy visiting places like this for its history and architecture, and I must confess that I found it much more interesting than I was expecting. In fact I would go further and say that I reckon it should get more attention than it does.
If you don’t fancy the 15-20 minute walk from the city centre, then there are any number of buses that will bring you up here, and although there’s been talk of charging an entry fee, as of January 2016 it still remains free. For all the latest info please check out the Glasgow Cathedral website.
Outraged at the orgy of vandalism, in the period from 1560 that destroyed so many Scottish churches and monasteries, the ordinary people of Glasgow said a distinct ‘No’ to the destruction of their cathedral during the Reformation. They took up arms to protect Glasgow Cathedral. If it had been destroyed, this would have lost over 1,400 years of history and beauty.
If only others had stood firm like the Glasgow citizens, for so much of beauty was lost during the Reformation. Scotland alone is littered with the remains of monasteries ruined during this period. Even from the scant remains their former beauty is evident. What for religion if this is what it can achieve?
Glasgow Cathedral has history built into its layers. The Blacader Aisle in the Lower Church is the site of the original church founded in AD590 by St Kentigern, bishop of Strathclyde – better known as St Mungo. He travelled widely and spread his message down the west coast of Britain as far as North Wales. Appropriately his tomb lies in the centre of the site of his simple wooden church.
The first stone church on the site opened in the presence of King David I of Scotland in 1136. It occupied the area covered by the present nave. Its walls below windows level date back to the early 1200s. Later building on the wall and adding the upper and lower choirs to the east end of the nave largely completed the present cathedral.
A choir screen splits the upper parts of the church into the nave and the choir. The sloping site on which the church sits allowed the construction an unusual feature - a lower church occupying the area under the choir. This is a beautifully vaulted space. At its heart lies the tomb of St Mungo while at its east end are a series of chapels. These include the Chapel of St John the Evangelist still containing the well used by St Mungo in the late 500s for his water supply.
Eager pilgrims queued to get into these chapels after 1451, when the Pope declared that a pilgrimage to Glasgow Cathedral would carry the same merit as one to Rome. Perhaps he didn’t appreciate hordes of grimy tartan-clad pilgrims appearing in his holy city?
One of the joys of Glasgow Cathedral is the way it is continually changing and adapting. There are many examples of this, but the most striking is the beautiful Millennium Window placed in the north wall of the nave in 1999. Three schools, Glasgow Academy, Hutcheson's Academy and the High School of Glasgow, holding annual services in the Cathedral, raised the funds to pay for it.
The window is true to the spirit of others in the Cathedral produced as far back as the 1400s as traditional techniques formed the production method. However the imagery and overall appearance are far from traditional being a distinctive symphony of shades of blue.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.