Few major cities have managed to turn around their fortunes as completely and rapidly as Glasgow. A quarter of a century ago, Scotland's historic port came very low on most people's lists of favourite European cities. Today many place it at, or near, the top...

In just 25 years Glasgow has transformed itself beyond all recognition, from being a city of tenements and street crime, to one of the cultural capitals of northern Europe.

In fact, this gateway to the Scottish Highlands always did have a lot going for it. Built on the River Clyde, it was a great port for centuries and has a long and fascinating history.

But oddly enough it is for art, culture and a modern sense of being 'cool' that Glasgow is winning hands-down in the visitor-ratings over its old rival Edinburgh. Even odder is the fact that the man who gave the city much of its artistic credibility died in virtual obscurity in far away London having being more-or-less forgotten by his home town.

Today, the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh are among the jewels in Glasgow's crown. For just 20 years this architect-designer carried out his frantic labour-of-love in the city, but the results that remain are enough to draw admirers from all over the world. Born on 7th June 1868, Mackintosh trained as an architect and studied art and design at evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art. Here he met the artist Margaret Macdonald whom he later married, and with friends they collaborated on designs for furniture, metalwork and illustration.

The work wasn't particularly popular in Britain, being regarded as a little too 'continental', but eventually Mackintosh's exquisite style began to be appreciated in his home city. Backed by a few patrons, Mackintosh completed his most memorable achievements within a short period of intense activity between 1896 and 1910.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of this work left for us to admire and a tour of his accomplishments provides a stylish icing on the cake when visiting this remarkable city. He died on 10th December 1928 and, though his death went almost unnoticed in his native city, the modern Glasgow has gone out of its way to make sure that the work of one of its most talented sons will never be forgotten.

What to Expect

Glasgow was voted the 'coolest' city in Britain in a recent survey by a leading UK magazine. With its excellent cafés, bistros, clubs, pubs, hotels and eating houses it is regarded by many as one of the most desirable cities in which to enjoy a short break anywhere in Europe.

Those looking for culture will find it easily enough whether it's high art, music, dance, literature, cinema or hedonistic nightlife.

But regardless of your taste in sights and sounds, a visit to one of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh sites really is a must. A good place to start is to visit Queen's Cross Church, home to the Charles Rennie Macintosh Society. Founded nearly 30 years ago, the society has some 2000 members from all over the world. Guided tours of Mackintosh sites for individuals and groups can be arranged and tailored to your particular needs.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh major sites of interest

Queen's Cross Church
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Headquarters
870 Garscube Road
Glasgow G20 7EL
Tel: +44 (0)141 946 6600

Ruchill Church Hall (1898)
Shakespeare Street
Glasgow G20 9PT
Open: Monday to Friday: 10:30 am - 2:30 pm (enquiries to Church House in Courtyard)

The Mackintosh House
Hunterian Art Gallery
University of Glasgow
Hillhead Street
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel: +44 (0)141 330 5431
Open: Monday to Saturday: 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
(Closed 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm)

The Willow Tea Rooms
(Charles Rennie Mackintosh 1903; restored 1980)
217 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow G2 3EX
Tel: +44 (0)141 331 2569
Open: Monday to Saturday: 9.30 am - 5:00 pm (last orders 4:30 pm), Sunday noon - 4:30 pm (last orders 4.00 pm)

Glasgow School of Art
167 Renfrew Street
Glasgow G3 6RQ
Tel: +44 (0)141 353 4526
Tour times: Monday to Friday 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, Saturday: 10:30 am and 11:30 am

Glasgow Style House
Art Gallery and Museum, Kilvingrove
Argyle Street
Glasgow G3 8AG
Tel: +44 (0)141 287 2699

Martyrs' Public School (1895)
Parson Street
Glasgow G4 0PX

The Lighthouse
11 Mitchell Lane
Glasgow G1 3 NU
Tel: +44 (0)141 221 6362

Daily Record Building
20-26 Renfield Lane
Glasgow G2 5AT
(External viewing only)

Scotland Street School Museum (1903-1906)
Museum of Education
225 Scotland Street
Glasgow G5 8QB
Open: Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm, Sunday: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

House For An Art Lover (completed 1996)
Bellahouston Park
Bumbreck Road
Glasgow G41 5BW
Tel: +44 (0)141 353 4770
Open: Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

The Hill House
Upper Colquhoun Street
Helensburgh G84 9AJ
Tel: +44 (0)1436 673900
Open: 1st April to 31st October 1:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Each has its own particular merit and significance, but the Glasgow School of Art is one of the most important and came about thanks to an architectural competition, held in 1896, for a new art school. Although Mackintosh was just a junior draughtsman with a local firm of architects, his design won. The two-phase project took some 10 years to complete, but is now believed to be one of the designer's finest achievements. The dramatic west wing, with its dominating windows, is said to have heralded the birth of a new style in twentieth-century European architecture. There are guided tours every day except Sundays and these are rather unusual because the school remains a working institution with more than 1000 students.

In 1901, Mackintosh entered another competition. His outstanding designs for his 'House for an Art Lover' resulted in a special prize for 'their pronounced personal quality, their novel and austere form and the uniform configuration of interior and exterior.' Surprisingly, the house was not built until 1988 when a Glasgow civil engineer, Graham Roxburgh, embarked upon the construction within the city's Bellahouston Park. Today, the house is complete and is said to show Macintosh's mastery of the balancing of opposites such as light and dark, masculine and feminine, sensual and chaste.

Visitors are delighted, if not slightly surprised, by Macintosh's renowned Willow Tea Rooms, in famous Sauchiehall Street. At the beginning of the 1900's the tea rooms were commissioned by Miss Kate Cranston and as a result everything in the place, from chairs and tables to light fittings and even the cutlery was designed by him.

Where to stay

The Glasgow Hilton is Glasgow's only five-star hotel. Close to the city centre it has 319 rooms, suites, three executive floors and a clubroom. All rooms have air conditioning, TV and in-house movies. The Hilton's Cameron's Restaurant offers excellent Scottish fare and there's a Minsky's New York Deli, a Raffles colonial theme bar and the Scotch Bar, as well as an indoor swimming pool, exercise facilities, sauna, steam room, spa bath, solarium and massage.

One Devonshire Gardens is in the heart of the West End, amongst its Victorian mansions and graceful terraces. A small, luxury, award-winning hotel and recognised by Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2000, its fine standards and friendly atmosphere make it an ideal place to stay, away from the bustle of the city centre but within ten minutes' reach. All rooms have King-size beds, satellite TV, digital telephone lines and CD players. The hotel prides itself on supplying 'yards and yards' of towelling, bathrobes, deep sofas and comforting armchairs, but in particular for its friendly and caring service.

Another of Glasgow's most charming small hotels is The Devonshire Hotel, set in an imposing Victorian terrace house. Its relaxed atmosphere and great service has attracted such stars as Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. The restored guestrooms are all spacious, with high ceilings and period fireplaces, many rooms housing antiques. Each has been individually decorated and named after one of Scotland's landmark castles.

The Millennium Hotel in George Square is one of the city's most historic having originally opened for business in 1810. During one refurbishment, designers found remarkable antiques and glistening marble panels in the high-ceilinged rooms. The best guest rooms are at the front of the building, facing George Square, and have four-poster or elaborate sleigh beds. The formal dining room is Windows on the Square, but there's also La Mirage Cafe and Bar, said to be one of the finest spots in Glasgow for a drink or a light meal.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society
Queens Cross Church
870 Garscube Road
Glasgow G20 7EL
Tel: +44 (0)141 946 6600
Fax: +44 (0)141 945 2321
E-mail: info@crmsociety.com
Website: http://www.crmsociety.com/

Useful web sites:


The Glasgow Hilton
1 William Street
Glasgow G3 8HT
Tel: + 44 (0)141 204 5555
Fax: + 44 (0)141 204 5004
Web site: http://www.hilton.com/hotels/GLAHITW/index.html

One Devonshire Gardens
Glasgow G12 OUX
Tel: +44 (0)141 339 2001
Fax: +44 (0)141 337 1663
E-mail: onedevonshire@btconnect.com
Web site: http://www.one-devonshire-gardens.co.uk

Devonshire Hotel
5 Devonshire Gardens
Glasgow G12 0UX
Tel: + 44 (0)141 339 7878
Fax: + 44 (0)141 339 3980

Millennium Hotel
George Square
Glasgow G2 1DS
Tel: + 44 (0)141 332 6711
Fax: + 44 (0)141 332 4264
E-mail: sales.glasgow@mill-cop.com
Web site: stay/with-us.com

For further information on accommodation and tourist sites contact:
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Valley Tourist Board
11 George Square
Glasgow G2 1DY
Tel: +44 (0)141 204 4480
Fax: +44 (0)141 204 4772

Some people say that the best months to visit Scotland are May and June, but this probably has more to do with the menace of midges and mosquitoes that inhabit the Highlands in high summer. In fact, Scotland is a northerly country that often takes the full brunt of the Atlantic's moods. Being on the country's west coast, Glasgow is no exception to this rule. Generally though, summers are mild and warm, while winters are cold and wet. It's worth noting, however, that Glasgow is close to the hills and so it often rains at any time of the year. Visitors are advised to pack accordingly.

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