The so-called 'mean streets' of Glasgow have always belonged in fiction writing, albeit with a foothold in reality. It was once the second city of the British Empire, but it was also the second poorest in Europe. No wonder Glasgow can get a bit lively at times, but is that a bad thing? The arts and culture scene in Glasgow has always been lively, still is, and always will be. The English don't like to admit it, but it's true. Glasgow is one of the foremost cities in the world for the creative arts. If it's opera, fine art, architecture, comedy, or just a descent cappuccino you're looking for, Glasgow isn't a bad place to start. Here are a few highlights of what you'll find in Glasgow, but it's by no means an exhaustive list.
Edinburgh may be the capital of Scotland, but Glasgow is the centre for its leading arts organisations. These include internationally acclaimed orchestras, such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. You'll also find the Scottish Opera and the Scottish Ballet in Glasgow, as well as the famous Citizen's Theatre. One of the reasons for such a high concentration of performing arts institutions is the range of fine venues available to them. There are almost twenty theatres and concert halls in Glasgow, and these include the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the Theatre Royal, City Halls, the King's Theatre, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. If you're thinking about a cultural visit to Glasgow, it's worth looking up some of the names above and seeing what's on.
Glasgow's reputation in the visual arts is truly international. Charles Rennie Mackintosh was central to the Art Nouveau movement, as was his less well-known wife Margaret MacDonald, who is said to have given the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt much of his direction. The galleries and museums of Glasgow are many, some of its most famous include The Burrell Collection, one of the greatest collections of art in the world, with works by Rodin, Degas and Cézanne; the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which also has an eclectic mix of artefacts including natural history, military history and fine art exhibits: and the Gallery of Modern Art, or GoMA as it's known, with its focus on art from more recent times.
Other cities have spectacular skylines, but Glasgow's architecture is best viewed from ground level. If you're arriving by train at Central Station, you'll immediately find yourself inside one of the city's greatest buildings. But, there's plenty more to see, especially in the centre of Glasgow. The city was at its peak in the middle and late Victorian era. The Royal Exchange in Queen Street and the Glasgow City Chambers in George Square are superb illustrations of the ambition of that time. Later decades saw the construction of some of Glasgow's most iconic buildings. The Glasgow School of Art attracts visitors from all over the world, to view its unique style and decoration. For many, it's a building that's synonymous with the city's personality.
Culture isn't all about the past, and nor is Glasgow. Its international reputation is just as tied up with popular music and comedy. Names you might've heard include Gerry Rafferty and Billy Connolly, or Franz Ferdinand and Armando Iannucci. In Glasgow, there's always a next generation in the pipeline. To experience it, you'll have to visit the city for yourself.
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