Glasgow City Chambers – the most beautiful town hall in Scotland

Glasgow has no castle and no palace – but inside the town hall is a magnificent palace of the people. And admission is free.

Ein großes graues Gebäude am Ende des Platzes George Square in Glasgow, mit einem großen Turm in der Mitte, zwei kleinen Turmspitzen an den Ecken und einer Fassade, die an die klassische Antike erinnert.
The front of Glasgow’s City Chambers

The location is already majestic. The Glasgow City Chambers dominate George Square in the centre of the city. A huge building with classical columns, reliefs and a tower. The grey façade looks rather cool and gives no hint of the splendour of colour and warmth inside.

Only a few tourists take the time to explore the interior of Glasgow City Hall. Twice a day, City Chambers staff guide visitors through the corridors and rooms of the building. And because it is a people’s house, these tours don’t even cost anything.

Ein langer Gang mit klassischen Doppelsäulen aus Marmor an den Seiten. Am Ende steht eine Büste.
The entrance area

Even the entrance area is astonishing. The cold grey of the façade gives way to warm shades of beige and brown. Italian-style arches support canopies with rich mosaic decoration. On the floor, visitors walk over the old city coat of arms – also made up of small stone slabs.

Ein Stadtwappen mit zwei Fischen an der Seite und einem Ritterhelm sowie einem Bischof darüber. Zentrales Motiv ist der Baum mit einem Fisch darunter, der einen goldenen Ring im Maul trägt. Darunter der Spruch
The coat of arms of Glasgow

Today, experts estimate that there are around 1.5 million mosaic tiles in the entire building. All laid by hand!

The classic Italian flair is no coincidence: architect William Young was inspired by a trip to Rome. He was particularly fond of the Arch of Constantine. No wonder that the entrance area features a very similar passageway.

Ein Durchgang im Inneren des Rathauses von Glasgow sieht aus, wie ein römischer Triumphbogen.
A passageway that is strongly reminiscent of Roman triumphal arches

Light is not only generated here by the elaborate hanging lamps, it also streams in from outside through the beautifully decorated stained glass.

Stained glass in the town hall

Visitors can also marvel at the entire lower area without a guided tour. However, the upper floors can only be accessed with an official guide, who also opens the doors and has a lot to tell. The way up is through the staircase.

Blick nach oben in ein dreistöckiges Treppenhaus mit Oberlicht. Mit Bögen, Säulen und viel Marmor.
The staircase of the Glasgow City Chambers

This is where the heart of the city administration beats. What the mayor is here is called “Lord Provost” in Glasgow. Meetings can only take place if the sceptre that represents the people is also present. It is kept safely in the Lord Provost’s antechamber.

Das große Zepter der Stadt liegend in einer Vitrine. Es besteht auf Silbe mit Gold überzogen.
The sceptre of the City of Glasgow

This insignia is made of silver clad in gold. In English, it is the “municipal mace” – a fitting name considering its size.

Ein Mitarbeiter des Rathauses präsentiert den Besucher die
An employee of the town hall presents the “municipal mace” to visitors

However, not every tour can see the sceptre – it always depends on whether the people in charge are there and have time. But even without seeing it, there is plenty to see here. The famous Councillors’ Corridor, for example. Its vaulted ceilings are clad in faience, tiles glazed in yellow, white and blue colours. Many councillors pass through here when they go to the meeting room.

Der Councillers’ Corridor ist ein langer Gang, über dem sich mehrere kleine Gewölbedecken eröffnen Sie sind reich verziert.
The Councillors’ Corridor

And of course this leads to the centrepiece of the City Chambers, the Council Chamber. This is where Glasgow City Council meets.

Council Chamber of the City Chambers

Modern technology has found its way between the old seats and the wood panelling. The MPs sit in a semi-circle around the Lord Provost’s desk. They don’t have much room, but the atmosphere is marvellous.

There is no room for receptions here, that is what the banqueting hall is for. Celebrities have gathered here – such as Nelson Mandela, who received an award here. The paintings on the wall in the banqueting hall are remarkable. They were created by artists from the Glasgow School, including Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh. And another real “highlight” are the lights above – the chandeliers. They were already electrically operated at the time, which was a sensation. They still shine today, even though some of the bulbs have been replaced over time.

The banqueting hall of the City Chambers

The tour finally ends in the gallery on the top floor. The portraits of the city’s many mayors hang here.

Eine Galerie mit vielen Bildern der Bürgermeister. In der Mitte ein Geländer um ein großes Loch im Boden. Von hier kann man in das untere Stockwerk blicken.
The gallery

The Glasgow City Chambers, which appear cold and imperious from the outside, surprise on the inside with their warm and opulent interior architecture. Being able to explore them on a tour – and for free – is one of the best experiences when visiting Scotland’s largest city.

Knowledge: Glasgow’s many town halls

When John Ure laid the foundation stone for Glasgow’s new town hall in 1883, it marked the end of a long journey. For decades, the representatives of the citizens wandered from one accommodation to another. Firstly from Trongate, where the Tollbooth Steeple still marks the spot where a building with a prison and administrative offices once stood.

Tollbooth Steeple in Glasgow

Then the courthouse on Glasgow Green.

Eine Straße mit vielen Autos führt auf das Glasgow Justizgebäude zu.
The courthouse on Glasgow Green

There were more buildings in between before the city council finally arrived in 1888 where it shines in all its glory today: in George Square in the centre of Glasgow. From here, the Lord Provost and the City Council rule over the 600,000 inhabitants.

Incidentally, the City Chambers are considered eclectic. This means that they are a mix of different architectural styles from different eras. Architect William Young came from the neighbouring town of Paisley and won the commission through a competition. Work on the interior of the building dragged on for a long time and the mayor’s room was still being renovated in 1910.

The opulence of the building was intended to demonstrate the wealth and trading power of the “second city of the Empire”.

Find it

The Town Hall is located in George Square, where not only many bus routes meet, but also Glasgow Queen Street railway station. It is therefore easy to get there by public transport or on foot. Travelling by car is not advisable.

Another note: The number of participants on the tours is limited. So don’t turn up too late.

Glasgow City Chambers Infos

What it isGlasgow City Hall

Opening hoursTickets available from 30 minutes before the start of the tour at City Chambers reception

Entry feesfree

Postcode for SatnavG2 6LL

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