The beautiful 12th-century Glasgow Cathedral is the oldest building in Glasgow and it is the most complete mediaeval cathedral on the Scottish mainland.
The cathedral is open to the public and is centrally located between the Glasgow Necropolis and St. Mungo’s Museum. Discover everything you need to know about Glasgow Cathedral with this visitor guide.
|Opening Hours:||1 Apr to 30 Sept:|
Mon to Sat, 10 am to 5 pm
Sun, 1 pm to 5 pm
Last entry 4.30 pm
1 Oct to 31 Mar:
Mon to Sat, 10 am to 4 pm
Sun, 1 pm to 5 pm
Last entry 4:30 pm
Closed for lunch 12 noon to 1 pm
|Parking:||Paid car park on Castle Street|
|Contact:||0141 276 1614|
|Facilities:||Shop, disabled access. Toilets at the St. Mungo museum.|
The medieval cathedral was built in dedication to St. Kentigern (also known as St. Mungo) in the 1100s and it has survived almost completely intact through 900 years of religious upheaval and world wars, and in fact, it’s one of the most complete medieval buildings in Scotland.
The cathedral must have been absolutely awe-inspiring when it was first built and it’s still impressive in modern times thanks to its dramatic Gothic architecture and ornate stone carvings.
But it’s the interior that’ll really get your camera trigger-finger going into overdrive because it’s such a beautiful place, and I have to admit it’s one of the few buildings I’ve visited in Britain that actually made me stop and stare as soon as I walked through the main entrance.
Think ‘mini York Minster’ and you’ll have a good idea of what I’m talking about.
There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore when you visit Glasgow Cathedral so children will be kept occupied just as much as adults, especially down in the crypt that contains the remains of St. Kentigern.
It’s an atmospheric place to be sure, and thankfully Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has installed lots of information panels and displays so you can discover the history behind the cathedral for yourself.
Perhaps the best thing about a visit to this part of Glasgow is that it’s close to a couple of other attractions that are just a short walk away.
First, there’s the sprawling expanse of The Necropolis – the Victorian garden cemetery that contains a collection of graves that are the final resting place for many famous Scots.
Second, there’s St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art which showcases religious exhibits and artefacts from across the globe.
Tourists will enjoy exploring these attractions even if they’re not remotely interested in history and seeing as all of them are completely free to visit they should definitely be included in every Glasgow sightseeing itinerary.
1: Glasgow Cathedral is stunning – which isn’t surprising considering it’s one of the largest cathedrals in Britain. The mediaeval area surrounding the cathedral is worth taking a wee wander around as well.
2: The crypt of St. Kentigern is incredibly atmospheric, as is the nave with its beautiful stained glass windows.
1: There are no public toilets on-site but you can use the ones in the St. Mungo Museum (but be aware it’s closed on Monday so the other nearest toilet is behind Provands Lordship).
2: Because the cathedral is so central it’s easy to combine a visit with other attractions in the city. The cathedral to George Square is just 15 minutes on foot.
3: Find more things to do in Glasgow with this article: Things to Do in Glasgow.
If you love history and architecture you’ll be in your element at Glasgow Cathedral and I guarantee you’ll enjoy walking around the enormous building with your camera in hand (but bear in mind you’re not allowed to use a flash).
I wouldn’t normally recommend parents take their kids to places like this because there’s a good chance they’ll quickly get bored, but Glasgow Cathedral is big enough that they can have a good romp around it and the information displays are genuinely interesting if they’re at the age where they can understand them.
That being said, I think children under 10 will be looking to go elsewhere after they’ve seen the main hall and the crypt, although there are lots of points of interest for adults.
There are frequent exhibitions displayed in the main hall in addition to the information panels so you’ll hopefully find something of interest whether you’re religious or not.
Other highlights are the Blacader aisle ceiling (nothing to do with Rowan Atkinson…) that’s studded with brightly painted stone bosses, and the lower-level shrine of St. Kentigern that’s dimly lit and extraordinarily atmospheric.
You’ll also find a collection of stained-glass windows and monuments to look at and there are free guided tours that last around an hour if you really want to learn about the history of the city and its cathedral.
If you’re not really interested in guided tours you can just as easily walk around on your own which shouldn’t take much more than half an hour – though you could stretch it out to an hour if you read all the information panels.
There’s a small shop on-site that sells guidebooks and souvenirs but there’s no café, so if you’d like a coffee and a snack you’ll have to pop next door to the St. Mungo Museum.
Finally, although there’s no fee to get into the Cathedral there are donation boxes near the entrance so you might want to drop a few quid into it on your way out to help keep this beautiful building open to the public for many more years to come.
It has been said that Glasgow was built around its cathedral and it’s certainly true that geographically the building is situated right in the heart of the city, but the origins of Glasgow Cathedral begin long before the metropolis that we know today even existed.
The cathedral was originally built on the site of a shrine dedicated to St. Kentigern who was the first bishop of the area that we know today as Strathclyde.
St. Kentigern is believed to have been buried on the site in AD 612 but the actual building that we see today was built sometime in the late 1100s.
Over time a precinct grew around the shrine to house the clergy that worshipped at the site and this, in turn, attracted tradespeople and shopkeepers to the area.
The cathedral was completed in the mid-1200s and continued to serve as the centre of the ever-expanding city until the time of the Reformation in the 16th century when Scotland broke away from the Catholic Church and no longer needed bishops.
Glasgow Cathedral continued to be used as a place of worship after the Reformation but was separated into three parish kirks – and it’s still used as an active place of worship to this day.
Unusually for a building like this, it became state property in 1836 and is now cared for by HES who continue to maintain it for future generations to enjoy.
Discover more places to visit in Glasgow with: The Best Places to Visit in Glasgow – Ultimate Visitor Guide.
Things to do
Explore Glasgow Cathedral: Start your journey by exploring the stunning 13th-century architecture of the cathedral. It’s the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland that survived the Reformation completely intact. Admire the intricate stained glass windows, the awe-inspiring ceiling, and the beautiful stone carvings.
Relish the cathedral’s rich history: Take a guided tour to truly understand the cathedral’s rich history. Learn about the life of St Mungo, Glasgow’s patron saint, and how he performed miracles in the city. Discover the crypt where St. Mungo is said to be buried and wander through the cathedral’s enormous nave.
Attend a service: Experience the spiritual aspect of Glasgow Cathedral by attending a service. The choir and organ music is spectacular and is something worth experiencing even if you’re not remotely religious. Check their website to see if a service coincides with your visit.
Visit the St. Mungo Museum: Just beside the cathedral, you’ll find this unique museum dedicated to all the world’s major religions. Discover a Zen garden, a Dali masterpiece, and a wealth of artefacts providing insight into the world’s faiths.
Wander through the Necropolis: This Victorian cemetery, located on a hill to the east of the cathedral, offers panoramic views over the city. Take a peaceful stroll amongst the grand monuments which pay homage to the people who shaped the city into what it is today.
Historical Significance: Glasgow Cathedral, also known as St. Mungo’s Cathedral, is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow, dating back to the 12th century.
Survivor of the Reformation: Unlike many other Scottish cathedrals, Glasgow Cathedral survived the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century. This period saw the destruction of many Catholic churches as Scotland transitioned to Protestantism.
Saint Mungo: The cathedral is dedicated to the patron saint of Glasgow, Saint Mungo, who is believed to have founded a church on the site in the 6th century. The saint’s tomb is located in the lower crypt.
Architectural Grandeur: Glasgow Cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. It is particularly renowned for its stone vaulted ceiling – one of the finest in Europe, and its impressive stained glass windows which were added in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
The Quire: The Quire, dating from the 13th century, is one of the cathedral’s most impressive features. It was where the clergy gathered to sing the daily services and it contains some of the finest medieval carvings in the country.
Necropolis Connection: The cathedral has a direct connection to the Glasgow Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery located on a low hill to the east. A bridge known as the “Bridge of Sighs” connects the cathedral grounds to this iconic cemetery.
The Blacader Aisle: Named after Bishop Blacader who had it built in the late 15th century, the Blacader Aisle is the oldest remaining part of the cathedral. It was originally intended as a private chapel and burial place.
Things to do nearby
George Square. Glasgow G2 1DH. 16-minute walk.
Glasgow’s principal civic square is located in the heart of the city next to the grand City Chambers. This historic square was laid in 1781 and is ringed with statues of famous Scots.
St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. 2 Castle St, Glasgow G4 0RH. 1-minute walk.
A free-to-visit museum located next to Glasgow Cathedral. This museum features a collection of religious-themed artefacts, paintings and exhibits from all over the world. There is a café and gift shop on site.
Provand’s Lordship. 3 Castle St, Glasgow G4 0RH. 2-minute walk.
This museum is situated inside one of only four medieval buildings that survive in Glasgow. Built in 1471, Provand’s Lordship is furnished with a collection of 17th-century furniture and portraits. Entry is free.
The Glasgow Police Museum. First Floor, 30 Bell St, Glasgow G1 1LG. 13-minute walk.
This independent museum is dedicated to Britain’s first police force. There are exhibits of clothing and police memorabilia and knowledgeable staff are on hand to answer any questions. Entry is free but donations are welcome.
The Necropolis. Castle St, Glasgow G4 0UZ. 3-minute walk.
The Necropolis is a large Victorian cemetery located behind Glasgow Cathedral. There are many footpaths winding their way around the 37-acre site and entry is completely free.
Frequently asked questions
How do I get to Glasgow Cathedral?
Address: Cathedral Precinct, Castle Street, Glasgow, G4 0QZ
Directions map: Google Maps
Is Glasgow Cathedral Protestant or Catholic?
Glasgow Cathedral was originally Roman Catholic but changed to Church of Scotland following the Reformation of 1560.
What is the Glasgow Cathedral famous for?
Glasgow Cathedral is the most intact mediaeval cathedral on the Scottish mainland and is the only cathedral to have survived the Scottish Reformation. The cathedral was founded around the shrine of St Kentigern who is said to have built a church on the site in the 6th century.
What visitor facilities are there at Glasgow Cathedral?
There are no visitor facilities at Glasgow Cathedral other than a shop at the entrance. The nearest facilities are at the St. Mungo Museum.