The City Chambers of Glasgow, Scotland, are magnificent Victorian buildings on the eastern side of the city's George Square. They are the headquarters of Glasgow City Council, the largest local authority in Scotland, and were completed in 1889. Queen Victoria herself performed the inauguration ceremony in August 1888, and the first Council meeting was held in October 1889.
The entrance hall of the Chambers proudly displays a mosaic of the city's coat of arms on the floor. The arms reflect legends about Glasgow's patron saint, Saint Mungo, and includes four emblems - the bird, the tree, the bell, and the fish - as remembered in the following verse:
Here's the Bird that never flew.
Here's the Tree that never grew.
Here's the Bell that never rang.
Here's the Fish that never swam.
A tapestry hanging on the hall is intended to represent Glasgow's past and present, and from a distance appears almost Japanese in style.
Pillars of marble and granite give way to staircases of marble, freestone, and alabaster, and a ceiling decorated in gold is topped by a stained-glass dome.
The Councillor's Corridor, containing the councillors' mailboxes and decorated in Italian faience1, leads to the Committee Rooms, where formal business committees meet, and also an impressive library.
From the corridor one passes into the Council Chamber. This is where the Council meets formally, and is one of the most impressive rooms in the City Chambers. There are seats for each of the 79 Councillors, all facing the Lord Provost (the Glasgow equivalent of the Lord Mayor found in London and other cities), his Deputy, and the Chief Executive, who are seated behind the mace. A public gallery looks down on the proceedings, and a small press gallery is located on the side.
The Lord Provost's main office is decorated in the same Venetian style as the rest of the building. Many famous visitors, including the Royal family have signed the visitor book here.
The municipal mace is kept in an ante-room leading to the Lord Provost's office. Part of the ritual of the Council's proceedings is that the mace is carried by the Council Officer when leading the Lord Provost into the Council Chamber to chair full council meetings. The mace is made from gold-plated silver, and was presented to the Council in 1912.
Next to the Council Chamber, you come across three rooms used for civic functions and large meetings: the Satinwood Salon, Octagonal Room, and Mahogany Salon. These rooms are decorated in fine woods as their names imply, and also house a selection of fine paintings.
The grandest room in the Chambers is the Banqueting Hall. Its magnificence has impressed heads of state, and it has witnessed many different types of events, from formal civil ones to record launches, fashion shows, children's Christmas parties and private functions. Nelson Mandela received his Freedom of the City here in 1993.
The hall is 33.5m long by 14.6m wide and 15.8m high. The carpet comes in three sections which are rotated regularly to prevent wear. The carpet design reflects the ornate pattern of the roof. Huge murals decorate the walls, depicting the granting of the city's charter, its history and culture, and the four main Scottish rivers. The hall's electric chandeliers, or 'electroliers', were designed in 1885.
The daily tours of the Chambers conclude with the Upper Gallery on the third floor, which lets one see the detail on the beautiful dome visible from the other floors, as well as portraits of former Lord Provosts.
The City Chambers of Glasgow, then, are well worth inclusion in any traveller's visit to the city, and its architectural features and position as a seat of local government will also ensure its appeal to locals and other Scots.