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Places of Worship Walking Tour of Glasgow (Self Guided), Glasgow

The feeling of serenity, of being free from stress and worries is very precious nowadays. And where better to find this than inside a church. Glasgow is home to a number of great churches that are notable for their architectural design, mostly in a Gothic style. Take our Places of Worship tour to visit the best churches in the city.
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Places of Worship Walking Tour of Glasgow Map

Guide Name: Places of Worship Walking Tour of Glasgow
Guide Location: Scotland » Glasgow (See other walking tours in Glasgow)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.8 Km or 4.8 Miles
Author: irenes
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church
  • Wellington Church
  • Woodland Methodist Church
  • St Mary the Virgin Cathedral
  • St Aloysius' Church
  • St George's-Tron Church
  • Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St Andrew's
  • Glasgow Central Mosque
  • St Mungo's Cathedral
Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church

1) Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church

When you start your tour of Glasgow’s lovely churches, you should begin with the Kelvinside and Hillhead Parish Church on Observatory Road.

This beautiful church, built in 1876 by James Sellar, is closely modelled on the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, France. It replaced a temporary church that had a corrugated iron roof and had been built to house the growing population of the Kelvinside and Hillhead area.

The church is renowned for its magnificent stained glass windows. The three central windows were made by Sir Edward Burne-Jones in 1893; the other four, two on each side, are the work of Collier and Company in 1903. Those you will see in the Baptistery and on each side of the Porch were installed in 1928 and were made by Margaret Webster.

The beautiful rose window in the west wall was installed in 1876, at the same time as the organ below it. The memorial window opposite the vestry door was made by Meikle and Sons of Glasgow in 1917 and the memorial window over the vestry door is the work of Sadie McLellan in 1958.

The church was renovated in 1930 and repainted, but subsequent water damage revealed a part of the original 19th century stencilled wall. As it was impossible to remove the layers of paint without damaging the red, gold and black ashlar pattern, a specialist was commissioned in 1999 to create a frieze, using the same type of paints and stencils that were used in the original work.
Wellington Church

2) Wellington Church

Wellington Church is the most impressive looking building the Hillhead area. You will find it on University Avenue, opposite the University of Glasgow. It is often frequented by students even though the University has its own chapel.

The church was built in 1883 by Thomas Lennox Watson. It has a wonderful Neo-classical portico with eight Corinthian columns and resembles a Greek temple. Students often hold peaceful protests and “sit-ins” on the wide flight of steps leading up to the entrance door.

A previous church with the same congregation was on Wellington Street, but by 1878 it was too small for the population, so the new church was built, changing the location, but keeping the name.

As well as being an active church with a large congregation, Wellington Church also hosts music concerts and recitals on the lovely pipe-organ, built by Forster and Andrews.

When you have finished your visit, don’t leave without stopping by the church’s Crypt Café. The entrance is on University Avenue. Here you can enjoy a light snack which includes pizzas, toasted sandwiches, soup and baked potatoes as well as buns and cakes. The coffee is reputed to be the best on the campus and the tea is excellent.
Woodland Methodist Church

3) Woodland Methodist Church

You will find Woodlands Methodist Church on Woodlands Road and you will discover that it is a lovely church to visit.

The church was commissioned in 1909 by the Swedenborgians, who created a New Church movement in 1787 based on the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, an 18th century philosopher and Christian “mystic”, who believed that the Last Judgement had taken place in the spirit world in 1757.

The church was built by David Barclay on two storeys with a Gothic gabled roof and a corner tower on the north side. It became a Methodist church in 1977.

The ground floor of the church is given over to offices and the High Nave is on the 1st floor, reached by Gothic, carved steps with a glass canopy. One of the stained glass windows is a memorial panel for those who died during the Second World War. On the east wall, above the fireplace, you will see carved panels representing the Swedish flag and the salmon and oak symbols of Glasgow.

The doors’ lintels are decorated with biblical inscriptions and stone columns support the wood panelled Chancel’s semicircular arch and the transept’s pointed arches. The church library at the rear of the building has wood panelling and Gothic-like bookcases on all of its walls.
St Mary the Virgin Cathedral

4) St Mary the Virgin Cathedral

St Mary the Virgin Cathedral is a beautiful church situated on the Great Western Road, where its tall spire dominates the skyline.

The church was built in 1893 by George Scott in a 14th century Gothic design. The spire was designed by John Scott. It is 23m high and stands on top of the 40 meter-high tower. The bell tower houses a ten bell peal of bells. The church is built of Lanark stone

The nave is 31m long and 9m wide and is separated from the aisles on each side by arcades comprising 6 arches. The nave’s glazed porch was added during renovations between 1998 and 2002.

The chancel and the transepts are separated from the nave by arches supported by columns of white Bath Stone. The Ashlar pulpit rests on colonnades of polished granite. During renovations the chancel, the Crossing and the tower were given a new roof and the organ was completely rebuilt. The clerestory windows were changed, the stained glass is by Hardman and Company.

The cathedral is very popular and has a full, professional choir. Other than the interesting services, it attracts tourists by hosting concerts, music recitals, art exhibitions and other events.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St Aloysius' Church

5) St Aloysius' Church

Don’t be put off by the rather forbidding exterior of St Aloysius’ Church on Rose Street, or you’ll miss visiting one of the loveliest churches in Glasgow.

The church was built in 1908 in the 17th century Renaissance style by Menart, with a slender golden-domed campanile, Baroque façade and Byzantine dome. The interior is modelled on the Cathedral of Namur in Belgium.

The church is 46 metres long and 28 metres wide with a 14 metre barrel roof of reinforced concrete spanning the nave. The ceiling height is 18.6 metres and 21.50 metres under the main cupola, which is beautifully decorated in green and gold and has 8 stained-glass windows. The interior is sheathed in marble decorated with Venetian mosaics. The High Altar was added in 1913. There are two sacristies and guildhalls.

The church boasts four lovely side chapels, with the Lady Chapel on the right of the High Altar where you can see a marble statue of Our Lady on a pedestal and a stained-glass window of the Annunciation.

The other chapels are: The Sacred Hearts Chapel, the Holy Souls Chapel and the St Ignatius Chapel. There is a shrine to St John Ogilvie, the first Jesuit martyr, and a copy of the statue Our Lady of Montserrat (the Black Madonna), which was donated to the church by Spanish visitors in 2008.
St George's-Tron Church

6) St George's-Tron Church

At the busy end of Buchannan Street is Nelson Mandela Place and you will find here the St George’s Tron Church which is the oldest building on the square.

The original church was built in 1687 but soon became too small for the parish’s growing population. Today’s church was built in 1808 by William Stark in the Baroque style. When the building was completed there were statues of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John on top of the bell tower, but these have been replaced by the impressive obelisk that stands over the ribbed dome and clock tower.

Between the time of its construction and 1940 the church was called St George’s Parish Church, but then it merged with Tron St Anne and took its present name.

The interior of the church is modern and light with arched lead-panelled windows and soft fixed lighting in the flat ceiling. The interior is plain and decoration is minimal, with its semicircular gallery overlooking the main aisle and altar.

It is truly a place of worship, although visitors are welcome to take part in the interesting services. The church has a book shop that sells Christian books and magazines and religious items, such as silver jewellery and postcards. Several times a week events are held in the church, including music concerts at lunchtimes.
Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St Andrew's

7) Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St Andrew's

You will find the Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St Andrew in Clyde Street on the North bank of the River Clyde.

This rather simple church was built by James Graham on land once owned by Boyle and Scott who were traders with the United States and West Indies. At the time there was a strong anti-Roman Catholic feeling in Scotland and while work was underway, the progress was hampered by saboteurs who tore down walls at night. Eventually guards were hired to protect the building and it was finished in 1814.

The cathedral, which has neither steeple nor bell tower, was constructed in the Neo-Gothic style with an ornate entrance with large buttresses on each side and an enormous arched central window. Above the window is a statue of St Andrew.

By the turn of the 21st century the building was getting a bit ragged-looking and extensive renovations were carried out in 2009. This included the restoration of the gold-leaf decoration, the installation of new bronze doors and a modernizing of the lighting and heating systems. The distinguished Scottish artist Peter Howson donated his painting of “The Martyrdom of St John Ogilvie” to the cathedral.

When you have finished visiting the cathedral, why not sit for a short while in the Italianate-style Cloister Garden on the east side of the building.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Glasgow Central Mosque

8) Glasgow Central Mosque

The Glasgow Central Mosque stands on the South Bank of the River Clyde, and while it is not open to non-Muslims except on special “open days”, you shouldn’t pass up a chance to see this elegant place of worship.

The mosque was built in 1983 on four acres of beautifully tended gardens. The building is a typical Arab-style with the main entrance of engraved glass in a floral design. The dome above the central prayer hall is also of glass and lets in natural light. The Mihrab points towards the Mecca. The tall Minaret is situated in the main courtyard.

The mosque has several “open days” every year when it hosts exhibitions of Muslim art, including 14th and 15th century manuscripts of the Koran, Arabic wood and metalwork, musical instruments and coin collections.

During these open days, non-Muslims are invited to visit the exhibitions, to take part in lectures about the Koran and the Muslim way of life and talk with members about their religion and beliefs. This is to promote an understanding about the differences between religions.

Do visit the mosque if you are lucky to be in Glasgow during the open days, the exhibitions are very interesting. But out of respect for the religion, following a dress-code is advised – no shorts or short skirts and skimpy tops.
St Mungo's Cathedral

9) St Mungo's Cathedral (must see)

St Mungo's Cathedral, or simply Glasgow Cathedral, is one of the few churches to have survived the Reformation. The setting for numerous literary works over the ages, its ornate construction and rich history dating from the 12th century provide hours of learning and exploration.

The ground on which the cathedral stands is steeped in history; it was first blessed by Saint Ninian over 1600 years ago and St Mungo, the son of a pagan King of Lothian, built his church here in the 7th century. You can see his tomb under the main altar, in the crypt.

The original church was wooden and was mostly destroyed by fire. Building began on the “new” church during the 12th century, in the Gothic style. It once had towers at its west end, but these were removed during renovations in the 18th century and there wasn’t enough money to replace them.

Inside the cathedral, you can admire the ancient “rood screen”, an ornate partition between the chancel and the nave. Rood screens are rare in Scottish churches and this one is much prized. In 1999 the magnificent Millennium Window was installed in the North wall of the nave. There are several side chapels, including the Chapel of St John the Baptist where you can see St Mungo’s Well.

During the Reformation, when many churches were sacked and torn down, the people of Glasgow took up arms to defend the cathedral. In 1583 the Town Council agreed to oversee the building and pay for its upkeep. It stands today as a reminder of the devotion and determination of the people who worship in it.

Admission is free, and it's highly recommended that you visit the interior because there are very few places you aren't allowed in.
After that, go next door to the Museum of Religious Life and Art, across the road to Provand's Lordship, and up the hill to the Necropolis (to get beautiful views of the Cathedral and the city), and you'll have seen the original medieval heart of Glasgow, and experienced four free attractions in one day.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9:30am–5:30pm; Sun: 1–4:30pm

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