Grand buildings in Scotland

These magnificent buildings in Scotland are worth a visit if you love grand architecture. 

1) National Archives of Scotland - General Register House

General Register House sits prominently on the east side on Princes Street and is the oldest custom-built archives building in the world. If you’re tracing your ancestry, then your search to your past will probably lead you here. Birth, death, immigration, marriage and slave records are just some of the documentation held here. Construction began in 1752, and funded to the budget of £12.000 taken from forfeited Jacobite fortune. However money ran out and construction was suspended in 1779. For six years the building laid empty, said to attract unsavoury characters and described as ‘the most magnificent pigeon house in Europe’. The most spectacular room in the building is Robert Adam’s dome room: 24 metres high and 15 metres wide, naturally lit by the central oculus and inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. It really is a magnificent room and quite an emotional experience connecting the past to the future. Outback is one of the hidden gems, that even many Edinburgh locals don’t know about, the Archivists’ Gardens. A courtyard planted with 57 different species representing birth, death, marriage, folklore and heraldry. An outstanding building connecting the dots to our internal curiosity of belonging.

statue of the Duke of Wellington and exterior of the General Register House Edinburgh

2) Glasgow City Chambers

Glasgow City Chambers was designed by Scottish architect William Young and was finished in 1888 and widely renowned as respected piece of Victorian civil architecture. The building was inaugurated by Queen Victoria, with the first council meeting being held in October 1889, and currently serves as the council headquarters. The interior is grand, with mosaic ceilings, marble stair cases and a banquet hall – where Nelson Mandela famously received his Freedom of the City. Free tours are the best way to enjoy this impressive building, they leave Monday to Friday at 10.30 am and 2.30 pm. It operates on a first come, first served basis, so arriving 30 minutes prior to the tour leaving is advised.

a man standing in the Glasgow City Chambers in Scotland

82 George Street, Glasgow

+44 (0)141 287 4018

3) Glasgow University

The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 and is the fourth oldest university in the world. The university’s most impressive building is the Gilbert Scott Building, named after its designer who was a leading figure in the Gothic revival movement. After he died, his son has overseen its completion. It is famous for its tower that stands at 85 metres tall. The university chapel was built in 1929 as a memorial to students who passed away in the two world wars and is one of the very few churches in Scotland where protestant and roman catholic marriages can be performed. Leading to the Hunterian Museum (which is definitely worth visiting) you’ll have to pass the East and West Quadrangles and under the cloisters. Which is one of the most picturesque areas of the university with the grand high archways. Book a tour to fully appreciate the importance and beauty of this institution.

tower at the University of Glasgow in Scotland

University Avenue, Glasgow

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Hidden Scotland reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Scotland's best-kept secrets.

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