The city of Glasgow is the most heavily populated settlement in Scotland and the fourth-most populous in whole of the United Kingdom. Despite its underdog appearance, Glasgow is actually within the top 30 most populated areas in the whole of Europe.
The early establishment of the University of Glasgow in the 15th century helped turn a small rural village on the banks of the River Clyde into a major settlement in the north of the British Isles. Becoming a major centre of the Scottish Enlightenment, Glasgow evolved to become the largest seaport in Scotland, one of the UK’s main hubs of transatlantic trade with North America and the West Indies.
Very little of medieval Glasgow remains. There are two significant buildings that can still be seen from the earlier growth of the city. Provand’s Lordship was once a part of the local hospital, and was converted into a merchant’s townhouse, and is now a historic house museum. The 13th century Glasgow Cathedral, dedicated to St. Mungo, is also another striking part of the city’s skyline. Although the original medieval street plan (along with many of the street names) remains on the eastern side of the city centre largely intact, although obviously the roads and paving themselves have been upgraded many times over the years.
With the river at is centre, there has been a settlement in the Glasgow area for millennia, although there wasn’t any official town or village until the expansion of Roman Britain with the construction of the Antonine Wall. The fort of Balmuidy was built in the 2nd century AD as one of 16 along the length of the wall, designed to supercede the earlier Hadrian’s Wall, although the growing strength of the Celts meant that it was abandoned after only 8 years.
The writer Daniel Defore visited Glasgow in the earlier part of the 18th century, writing that it was “the cleanest and beautifullest, and best built city in Britain, London excepted” in the accounts of his travels published in the 1720s as A Tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain. At that point, Glasgow had still not gone through the many periods of expansion caused by the Industrial Revolution that affected how the city looks to this day.
With the construction of the Monkland and Forth and Clyde canals at the end of the 18th century, Glasgow became even more accessible, particularly for transporting iron ore and coal. These two main components enabled a nascent shipbuilding industry to really thrive on the banks of the Clyde, meaning its population overtook the Scottish capital of Edinburgh by the 1820s.
Some of the notable features around the West of Glasgow are the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Science Centre, OVO Hydro, Kelvingrove Art Gallery/Museum and the Braehead Shopping Centre, which is based on the land of the King’s Inch, a former island in the Clyde that was once home to a castle.
Braehead is technically in the neighbouring town of Renfrew, which is a feature of western Glasgow that can get very confusing – many of the settlements in the area have begun to merge due to ongoing development, meaning that places such as Paisley, Clydebank, Bearsden and Giffnock also now come under the Greater Glasgow metropolitan area.
Despite its northerly latitude, similar to that of the Russian capital of Moscow, the climate of Glasgow is classified as oceanic. Weather data for the region is collected from 3 official weather stations in the Glasgow area: Paisley, Abbotsinch and Bishopton. All three are located to the west of the city, in neighbouring Renfrewshire.