In the heart of Glasgow, a city rich with history, culture, and creativity, lies a hidden gem that’s a testament to the city’s artistic spirit: The Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail. This urban canvas, spread across the city’s walls, alleyways, and buildings, is an open-air gallery that features everything from colossal wildlife portraits to otherworldly fantasy scenes. In this article, we’ll embark on a journey through the winding alleys and bustling streets of Glasgow to discover the city through its striking murals.
Glasgow. The city of shipbuilding, Tennent’s lager, Gothic architecture and enormous shopping centres. There’s certainly a lot to see and do in this remarkable city, and in addition to the standard tourist attractions you’ll find an eclectic mix of fascinating museums and trendy bars as well as a collection of some of the finest art galleries in Britain.
But did you know you can also experience Glasgow’s vibrant art scene outdoors, within easy walking distance of the city centre? Well… you can, and if you spend a little time exploring the alleyways and side streets of Scotland’s largest city you’ll quickly discover an array of murals that showcase the cream of Scottish artistic talent.
These often thought-provoking pieces of public street art have been designed to transform the hidden corners of Glasgow into striking artworks, and a walk between each one allows visitors to see parts of the city that are usually missed by tourists.
While it’s certainly possible to wander around the city centre and randomly stumble across the murals, it’s a better idea to follow the dedicated route provided by the official City Centre Mural Trail website.
Something to be aware of is that the mural trail is designed to reflect a mirror on this ever-changing city, so the murals will eventually be destroyed as each building is either demolished or renovated.
1: One of the standout highlights of the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail is the artistic diversity on display. Artists like Rogue-One, Smug, Ejek, and others have contributed to the trail, each bringing their unique style and perspective. From photorealism to abstract, you’ll find a wide range of art styles that reflect the vibrant, multi-faceted spirit of Glasgow.
2: The murals often depict significant elements of Glasgow’s culture and history. For instance, the ‘Saint Mungo’ mural showcases the city’s patron saint, while ‘The World’s Most Economical Taxi’ highlights Glasgow’s sense of humour.
3: The Mural Trail is part of a broader initiative to rejuvenate the city centre by turning bland, unloved walls into striking public artworks. As you follow the trail, you’ll see how the murals have transformed disused spaces into striking public artworks.
1: Check out the official website before you look for the murals as it has a handy route map which is updated regularly so it includes new additions whenever they’re created.
2: Alternatively, a few of the murals are marked on Google Maps.
3: It’s possible to see the artworks on a self-guided tour but it’s a more rewarding experience to be taken around by an expert. Click this link to purchase tickets for a guided tour: Glasgow Mural Tour.
Following the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail will take you on an interesting tour of the city and it’s a great way to experience the city’s culture while also learning about its history. Credit has to be given to the city council for allowing these enormous artworks to be painted on so many unlikely ‘art galleries’ as they’ve successfully revamped areas that are otherwise run down.
The quality of the artworks is impressive – as is the size of the things – so if you intend to follow the trail I highly recommend you take your camera with you because you’ll be presented with dozens of photo opportunities as you make your way around.
Most of the murals are quite Banksy-esque (I think that’s a word) and have something to say about the world, like ‘Wind Power’ – the mural shown at the top of this page with dandelion seeds shaped like wind turbines. Some obvious sideways thinking is at work, but several murals follow a more traditional style such as ‘Glasgow’s Tiger’ which incorporates an amazingly high level of detail for such an enormous image.
Even if you’re not a big fan of street art it’s worth spending some time trying to find these murals hidden down Glasgow’s often-missed alleys and streets, and who knows, you might enjoy looking for them so much you complete the entire trail in one go.
About an hour, depending on fitness level. Bear in mind that you will likely stop several times to view the murals, so plan for longer.
Easy. The trail runs through the city centre and is accessible by (fairly) well-maintained roads and footpaths.
Starting at the Hip-Hop Marionettes mural on George Street, follow the road east towards Strathclyde University for the next mural. Then double back and head south down Albion Street, and turn south onto Candleriggs for the Badminton mural, just off the junction of Wilson Street.
Head back to Candleriggs and continue south where you’ll find the Spaceman mural off the junction of Trongate.
Heading back to Candleriggs, follow King Street south towards the River Clyde where you’ll find the Clutha mural on Bridgegate. Head west along the river bank to the Tiger mural, then head north up Dixon Street until you reach Argyle Street for the last two artworks.
Either head east to the Argyll Street Cafe mural, or head north up Mitchell Street to the taxi mural, which is the last one on the trail.
As previously mentioned the murals will change over time so you can follow the route in Google Maps or you can head on over to the Glasgow City Centre Mural page and download a pdf file which details all the murals along with information about the artist and nearby attractions you might like to visit.
Things to Do
Mural Exploration Walk: Embark on a self-guided tour of the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail. Each mural tells a story about Glasgow’s rich cultural history and the city’s vibrant present. The murals are scattered throughout the city centre, turning otherwise mundane walls into captivating works of art.
Photography Challenge: Use the murals as a backdrop for a unique photography challenge. The murals, each with their own unique style, provide a perfect platform for creative photography. Capture the vibrant colours and intricate details of the murals with the stark contrast of the city’s buildings in the background.
Guided Mural Tour: Join a guided tour of the Mural Trail to learn more about the artists, their inspiration, and the themes they’ve chosen to portray. These tours, often led by local artists, offer insightful commentary and a deeper understanding of each mural. It’s a great way to learn about Glasgow’s art scene.
Sketching Session: Bring your sketchbook and pencils and let the murals inspire your creativity. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a novice, drawing the Glasgow city centre murals can be a fun and rewarding experience, and it’s a great way to improve your sketching skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who painted the Billy Connolly murals?
The Billy Connolly murals in Glasgow were painted by Scottish artists Jack Vettriano, Rachel Maclean and John Byrne.
How long does it take to do the Glasgow mural trail?
The route along the Glasgow Mural Trail changes as new murals are added and old ones are removed, but an approximate time to walk it is 3 hours.
Where is the street art in Glasgow?
The artworks on the Glasgow Mural Trail are located throughout the city centre, although the murals are frequently replaced. For an updated list of the locations of the murals visit the official Mural Trail Map.
What visitor facilities are there in Glasgow?
Glasgow has all the facilities of any modern city including, bus, train, and underground public transport, cafés, bars and restaurants, car parking and much more. Visit the People Make Glasgow website for updated information on available facilities.