Merchant City
Merchant City, Glasgow.jpg

The Merchant City at night
Merchant City is located in Glasgow council area
Merchant City
Merchant City
Location within Glasgow
OS grid referenceNS595649
• Edinburgh47 miles (76 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
  • Glasgow
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townGLASGOW
Postcode districtG1
Dialling code0141
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°51′24″N 4°14′46″W / 55.8568°N 4.2462°W / 55.8568; -4.2462Coordinates: 55°51′24″N 4°14′46″W / 55.8568°N 4.2462°W / 55.8568; -4.2462

The Merchant City is the area close to George Square and Glasgow City Chambers, and reaching Glasgow Cross, some parts dating from the medieval period, in the centre of Glasgow, Scotland. It contains offices, flats, retail shops, restaurants, and bars.[1] It is also home to the former Royal Exchange at Queen Street, GoMA, the Gallery of Modern Art, City Halls & Old Fruitmarket, Merchant Square, and the Scottish Youth Theatre. It hosts many annual festivals.


The medieval Glasgow Cross continues at the junction of High Street, Trongate and Saltmarket. The town's tron, weighing scales, was placed next to the steeple of the town house in the 1550s. The Tron Steeple, as it became known, still stands at Glasgow Cross, one of the few remaining pre-Victorian buildings in Glasgow.

The area now known as 'Merchant City' was developed from the 1750s onwards. It also includes St Andrew's Square, adjacent to Glasgow Green. Residences and warehouses of the wealthy merchant "tobacco lords" were built in the area. The district west of the congested High Street became the ancient burgh's first planned New Town, with wide, straight streets, vistas, churches and squares, marking the start of aspirational residential movements westwards that would continue over two centuries, including, from 1800, the second New Town, being Blythswood upon Blythswood Hill, just west of the new Buchanan Street, rising to Blythswood Square.[2]

Tolbooth Steeple.
Tolbooth Steeple.

As Glasgow expanded in the 19th century to become the second city of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, the area became a centre of major warehouses, shipping companies, offices, distilleries and clothing manufacturers; while the markets continued in fruit, vegetables, cheese and fish.

After plans to construct the M8/M74 motorway ring road around the city centre were published in the 1960s much of the area fell into decline, with some of the buildings compulsorily purchased by the city council to allow for their demolition ahead pf the new road. The central food markets moved to modern premises further east of the city centre. At the same time the vast number of wholesale and manufacturing warehouses declined, largely because of the national ending of Retail Price Maintenance, and the continuing movement to out of town industrial estates. However the High Street motorway road was never built and in the 1980s the decision was taken by the city council and the Scottish Development Agency to revitalise the area and its historic buildings with public and private investment in its improvements and new uses.

The name 'Merchant City' was first coined by historian and writer Charles Oakley in the 1960s, ahead of this regeneration.

The Merchant City has been promoted and built up in recent years as a residential, shopping and leisure area, mirroring Covent Garden in the West End of London. To this end many new bars and restaurants have been established. This has been complemented with the building of prestigious new housing developments, often by restoring Victorian buildings. A recent example being the GPO Building development in George Square.

Another important element of the area's transformation is high-end shopping, anchored by the Italian Centre, home to, amongst others, Versace Collections (the UK's first Versace store) and Emporio Armani. The Italian Centre was designed by Page\Park Architects who are fond of including art in their architecture. Here the art is integral to the façades, but also features in the courtyard including a sculpture, 'Thinking of Bella' (1994) by Shona Kinloch. Recent shopping developments include Bang and Olufsen, Bose, Escada, Ralph Lauren, Mulberry and underwear and lingerie Agent Provocateur stores. The annual Merchant City Festival takes place in September attracting tens of thousands to the area with its multi-arts programme.

In 2006 Merchant City was winner of The Great Neighbourhood Award from The Academy of Urbanism.


Merchant is famous for their annual festivals. Merchant city festivals have a lot of different entertainments, including street arts, dance, live music, markets, fashion and design, comedy, family events, tours, heritage walks, talks, visual art, film, and children - families activities every year.[3]

Merchant City Festival 2017 was held on 22–30 July 2017.[4]

There were two great family events as Carnival Procession and Provand’s Lordship free Family Fun Zone. Among the highlights of the festival are carnival procession from Glasgow Cathedral , massed samba bands, a UNESCO music stage, the return of SURGE, the festival within a festival, a Street band “Encontro” and a celebration of street food.[5]

During the festival, the city hosted Hip Replacement, a family Dance-along screening of Moana and Indiana Jones, and the hugely popular live sing-a-long Massaoke.[6]


  1. ^ "Getting Ahead of Change: Glasgow City Centre Strategy and Action Plan 2014–19". Glasgow City Council. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
  2. ^ Glasgow's Blythswood, by Graeme Smith, published in 2021
  3. ^ "Merchant City Festival 2015 - SPT". SPT. 23 July 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Merchant City Festival". Merchant City Festival. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Merchant City Festival returns for a week long celebration in Glasgow's cultural quarter". The List. 22 June 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  6. ^ "Merchant City Festival 2017 Launched!". Retrieved 26 August 2017.