Glasgow history

Step back in time: See Glasgow’s history come to life

Shaking off its industrial past, Glasgow has become a cultural hub and Scotland’s largest city. Here’s where it all started.

Historic Glasgow has a fascinating timeline, dating back to the Roman and medieval times, following through to the Industrial Revolution and finally revamping itself as the modern city of today.
The founding of a city
The history of Glasgow starts in the 6th century when Christian missionary Saint Mungo built a church on the Molendinar Burn, now the site of Glasgow Cathedral, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. The cathedral is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture and the hilltop Necropolis cemetery is also a popular attraction, where over 50,000 people have been buried. Following the cathedral’s foundation, Glasgow went on to become a farming village and then a religious centre.
All about academics
In 1451, the University of Glasgow was founded, which makes it the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. Over several centuries the University grew, cementing Glasgow’s place as a prominent academic city. Today, the University of Glasgow has a number of campuses and has been ranked in the top 10 universities in the United Kingdom, and is known for its research, life sciences, literature and political alumni.
The Industrial Revolution
Thanks to its position on the River Clyde, Glasgow has a long fishing and maritime history. By the 16th century, Glasgow had become an important trading centre as the river provided access for importing and shipping. Fast-forward to the 19th century, and Glasgow became known as the ‘Second City of the Empire’ (after London) with a booming cotton and textile industry. As Glasgow developed into an industrial hub, it also became one of the richest and largest cities in the world, home to incredible architecture and monuments. By the 1800s, Glasgow was also one of the best shipbuilding centres, helping to replace wooden sailing vessels with steel.
War time
Glasgow already had a reputation for some of the finest shipbuilding in the world and World War I brought with it new contracts for battle fleets and other army transport. During World War II, Glasgow was heavily bombed by the German air force and the Clydebank Blitz in 1941 all but destroyed the city. After the war, Glasgow tried to rebuild but many of the replacement high-rise buildings meant historic Victorian houses were torn down. Post-war was a dreary time for Glaswegians as unemployment was high and the city lay in ruins. However, it wasn’t all bad news – Glasgow continued to build several notable ships, including the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Elizabeth II.
A modern-day renaissance
From the mid-1980s, Glasgow transformed its image and emerged as a new cultural hub. The existing buildings were refurbished to great success and a new central business district was created in the west of city. Since then, Glasgow has won many prestigious awards: it was named European City of Culture in 1990, the City of Architecture and Design in 1999, the European Capital of Sport in 2003, and the UNESCO City of Music in 2008. Today, Glasgow is known around the world for its varied music scene and the birthplace of groups such as Franz Ferdinand, Primal Scream and Belle & Sebastian. Glasgow was also the host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and is one of the most visited cities in the British Isles, known for its museums, cultural scene and shopping.
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