Uppsala, a 15th century University town in the North
A swedish University town
from the 15th century
Uppsala is the fourth largest city of Sweden, 80 km north of Stockholm,
20 minutes from Arlanda International Airport.
Population: ~ 150 000
Coordinates: 59°51′ N, 17°38′ E
Uppsala is one of the oldest and most prestigious University towns in Europe.
The first settlement, known as Gamla Uppsala, dates back from pre-Viking times,
and was perhaps the main centre of pagan cult in Sweden.
As the scandinavian gods were decaying in popularity, a rival christian borg was
founded around 1164 at the port of Old Uppsala, and by 1274 (new) Uppsala
had grown larger than its old predecessor. A large gothic cathedral was built in
1435, the magnificent Domkirke that still dominates the town. The University
followed, founded in 1477.
Uppsala Cathedral, the University (left) and the Fyrisån (Fyris river) .
The town developped on
both banks of Fyris river,
the central and comercial
areas on the east side, the
University and the cultural
centers on the west.
The civic centre:
Stora Torget (Main Square) and the Radhaus (townhall) building.
Stora Torget was built in the 17th century, on a
dried bay of the Fyris river, after a royal decision
to replan the town according to a square grid.
The railway station is close by. This is the main door for students and tourists,
coming from Stockholm or from Arlanda Airport.
All through the year, the Railway Station’s bycicle park displays a peculiar
view – this is really a popular european university town.
Close to the main square is the smaller, older, not-square Gamla Torget,
and the Fyristorg across the river. One of the favorite views, introducing
the old town.
Several bridges take across the river: pedestrian bridges in iron and stone
bridges, like Dombron, Uppsala's oldest.
It was built in 1760 , and the name refers to its location near the cathedral.
Dombron marks the entrance to the cobblestone-floored
From Stora Torget, the Västgötaspången is one of several foot
bridges crossing the river into Uppsala's old town.
The bridge, often crowded in summer, joins the two banks of the Fyris,
Östra and Vastra, East and West.
A quiet evening in the often crowded Östra Ågatan.
The two walkways bordering Fyris river, Östra Ågatan - more scenic and
devoted to leisure or shopping - and Vastra Ågatan - more monumental -
are the first walk to have in Uppsala, offering a panoramic view of the town.
The Cupola of the old Gustavianum is visible over the roofs.
This is Valvgränd (Arch Lane),
in Valvgatan, a well-known
Valvgatan is a
alley on the West
side of Uppsala.
The Skytteanum is a private House for
the Professor in Eloquence and Political
Science at University of Uppsala, which
was established in 1622. The building
was once part of the medieval city wall.
Uppsala University and the ‘Nations’
The university, founded in 1477, flourished during the rise of Sweden
as a great power at the end of the 16th century, and was then given
special protection under the rule of King Gustavus Adolphus, in the
early 17th century.
For centuries it ranks among the best in Europe.
The majestic entrance Hall of the University’s main building.
Carolina Rediviva, the main Library of Uppsala University.
The building was begun in 1820 and
completed in 1841.
The name, meaning "Carolina Revived",
intends to remember the previous 18th
century library, ‘Academia Carolina’.
The Codex Argenteus, known as "Silver Bible”,
is a 6th-century manuscript with a 4th-century
translation of the Bible into old East Germany’s
The complete work is on permanent display at
the Carolina Rediviva library in Uppsala. It is
the most precious book in Sweden.
The final leaf of the
codex, fol. 336, was
discovered in 1970
in Speyer, Germany.
The leaf contains the
final verses of the
Gospel of Mark.
This was the former main building of
Uppsala University; the Gustavianum
was built in 1622 –1625.
The name Gustavianum comes from
swedish King Gustavus Adolphus,
who financed its construction.
The Gustavianum is Uppsala University’s older building. Under the cupola is
the Theatrum Anatomicum, the second oldest in the world, from the mid 17th
Since 1997 the building became home for the Museum Gustavianum.
Used to teach anatomy in the first
modern universities, it consists of
a room of roughly amphitheatrical
shape, around a central table on
which the bodies to dissect and
study took place.
This one in the Gustavianum has
an octogonal shape.
A pair of telescopes from the 17th century.
The student nations or nationer are old
student societies, with a history stretching
back to the 1630s.
Traditionally, students were required to be
members of the nations whose area they
came from, and international students free
to choose whichever nation they desire.
The nations are in charge of the kind of
social activities such as café, pub, clubs,
theatre, orchestras, sports societies, balls
and formal dinners - and also housing for
The nations take the names from the Swedish provinces from which they
traditionally recruited their members; there are 13 nations in Uppsala
Norrlands Nation claims to be largest nation; it has a powerful
18th century building on Fyrisån, with halls and lounges that are
often used for celebrations.
It consists of two small buildings, one of which also houses the residences,
and the location by the river is perfect. Västgöta Nation, commonly known
as VG, was founded in 1639 and thus is one of Uppsala’s oldest nations.
Several of Nations buildings are old and architecturally interesting; one of
the favorites is Västgöta Nation , ‘VG’.
With about 1200 members, Västgöta
Nation is one of the smaller nations at
Uppsala, but still has extensive cultural
activities, including choirs, a theatre
club and an orchestra.
The castle was built by King Gustav Vasa in 1549, in a time
Sweden was on its way to become a great power in Europe.
As a royal castle, Uppsala Slott has played a central role in Swedish
Today, the large building is the site of the Uppsala Art Museum
(Konstmuseet). In its large halls are displayed paintings and other
remnants of the 16th century castle built by the Vasa dynasty.
Peasant Wedding in a Barn, by Pieter Breughel the Younger
from a private collection, in Uppsala Art Museum.
Gamla Uppsala was the
pre-Christian residence of
the Swedish kings of the
legendary Yngling dynasty.
It was also the location of
the ‘Thing’ of all Swedes,
a general assembly held
from norse times to the
As early as the 3rd century
AD and the 4th century AD
and onwards, all through
the late Iron Age, it was an
important religious and
Several pre-Viking burial mounds, dated to the 5th and 6th centuries, show
the importance of this sacred site. Before Christianity arrived in Sweden,
Gamla Uppsala was the seat of Swedish kings and a ceremonial site known all
over northern Europe. The settlement was home to royal palaces, a royal
burial ground, and a great pagan temple.
Three of the burial mounds are known as the Royal Mounds (Kungshögarna).
Uppsala’s old cathedral was probably built in the 11th century, but finished in
the 12th century.
Gamla Uppsala was such an important ceremonial site that the first
Swedish cathedral was built over the pagan temple.
Near the church is its splendid red, wooden belfry.