Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Exploring Glasgow

A good part of our lovely Christmas/New Year's holiday was spent just hanging out with each other, both curled up at home with our cats and exploring our new city. There are many parts of it still unknown to us, so we ventured further east and further south on a couple of occasions.

Our easterly visit took us to Glasgow Cathedral, the Necropolis and to the Museum of Religious Life. Across from the Museum is also the oldest standing house in Glasgow, the Lordship Provender, where legend has it Mary Queen of Scots stayed for a few nights and wrote some rather incriminating letters that linked her to her second husband's murder. We were hoping for a tour of the house, but it was unfortunately closed due to lack of staff, said the note on the door. So we started out with the Museum, which is well worth a visit if you come to Glasgow. Not only does it have a floor devoted to religion in Scotland, and the wide varieties thereof, and the interesting and intense history thereof, but it has quite a few lovely artifacts and displays of religions of the world. Once through, we ate some homemade sandwiches we packed along, and then headed over to the Necropolis. Its a large cemetery opened up in the 1800's when Glasgow's population was starting to boom. It is clearly a cemetery for the gentry however with its large family mausoleums and giant monuments. Very beautiful as it spirals up a large hill with spectacular views of the city. But this was clearly not the resting place of all the Glaswegians who were living in the slums of the 1860's and dying of dysentery and cholera. Sorry, I guess I just have to get political about everything, but that's not hard to do here. There is such a strong leftist history to this city that is very interesting - parliamentary fears of a Bolshevik uprising in the late teens, famous labour strikes in the 30's and 70's, trade unions as major cultural supporters throughout the 70's and 80's giving rise to some strong political theatre and art, just for some examples. But I digress. I was talking about the beautiful monuments...
Then there is Glasgow Cathedral, with its ancient origins, the tomb of St. Mungo (who died in the 6thC) in the lower crypt, the 14thC Sacristy with its original oak door (a plaque on the wall points out the bullet holes which it gives as evidence of "troubled times", namely Reformation related sectarian violence, which continued on and off for about 300 years, actually more like 500+ years if you consider the Rangers/Celtics football rivalries. Rangers are the Protestant team and Celtics are the Catholic team, both Glaswegian, and there have been some pretty nasty things happen to fans caught alone in the wrong neighborhood.) (Another diversion, sorry.) My point was that the Cathedral is not very big but it is very old and very interesting, another must see for visitors.

As for our southerly excursion, that was after New Year's, and we went to Pollok Park, which is near the districts of Crossmyloof and Strathbungo. Its true.
The park is a very large estate donated to the city of Glasgow in the 60's and features lovely walking trails through various meadows and fields where giant long-horn Highland cattle graze (in the middle of the city!!) and two buildings of interest, Pollok House, which is a 18thC manor house (which we didn't go inside, because we were a bit short on time and hungry) and the Burrell Museum which houses the extraordinary collection of artifacts collected by William Burrell, a rich Victorian guy who really liked tapestries. He has a lot of other things too, but his medieval tapestry collection is really amazing. It is just such a lovely place to walk too. Aaron says it was voted the best park in Europe. Thus another highly recommended place to take visiting family and friends.

Pictures: Top Left - View to the south-west from the Necropolis, Top Right - Gateway to Pollok Park, Bottom Right - North Kelvin Meadow on a misty late afternoon

Next post: (working backwards here) Our pre-Christmas trip to Inveraray.

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