Just steps from Glasgow’s Style Mile, the Lighthouse serves as a popular place to spend a couple of hours. Also known as Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, this attraction is most famous for its sweeping views of the city’s eclectic skyline, best seen from its sixth-floor viewing point, accessible by elevator or by way of 133 steps up a spiral staircase.
Designed in 1985 by iconic Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Lighthouse was originally home to The Glasgow Herald newspaper, one of the longest-running newspapers in the world. But regardless of the newspaper’s history, why is there a lighthouse up an alley in central Glasgow? Well, the building’s famous tower only resembles a lighthouse—the tower was actually built to house an 8,000-gallon water tank to protect the building and its contents against fire.
The Lighthouse hosts exhibitions, workshops and discussions related to design and architecture. The permanent Mackintosh Interpretation Centre, located on the third floor, allows visitors to see small-scale models of Mackintosh buildings that never came to fruition, along with original furniture and photos. As the Lighthouse was the designer’s first public commission, it is an ideal starting point for a Mackintosh-inspired trip through Glasgow.
Tucked up a narrow lane connecting lively Buchanan and Mitchell streets, the Lighthouse is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., and from noon until 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free, though some temporary exhibitions may require a fee. The Lighthouse is a two-minute walk from Glasgow Central Station, and it’s a five-minute walk from both Buchanan Street subway station and St. Enoch station. Keep a look out for Mitchell Lane, as the center’s street is easily missed.