Uppsala Explained

Official Name:Uppsala
Pushpin Map:Sweden
Subdivision Type:Country
Subdivision Name:Sweden
Subdivision Type1:Municipality
Subdivision Name1:Uppsala Municipality
Subdivision Type2:County
Subdivision Name2:Uppsala County
Subdivision Type3:Province
Subdivision Name3:Uppland
Area Footnotes:[1]
Area Total Km2:47.86
Population As Of:2005-12-31
Population Total:128,409
Population Density Km2:2683
Utc Offset:+1
Timezone Dst:CEST
Utc Offset Dst:+2

Uppsala (older spelling Upsala) is the capital of Uppsala County (Uppsala län) and the fourth largest city of Sweden with 128,409 inhabitants.[2]

Located about 70 km north of the capital Stockholm, it is also the seat of the Uppsala municipality (Uppsala kommun). Since 1164, Uppsala has been the ecclesiastical center of Sweden, being the seat of the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden. Founded in 1477, Uppsala University is the oldest center of higher education in Scandinavia.


Uppsala was originally located a few kilometers to the north, at a location now known as Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala). Today's Uppsala was then called Östra Aros. (Old) Uppsala was, according to medieval writer Adam of Bremen, the main pagan centre of Sweden, and the Temple at Uppsala contained magnificent idols of the Æsir gods.

As a replacement for the Scandinavian gods, Uppsala was made into a strong Christian centre. A bishop was soon consecrated, and in 1164 Uppsala was made into an archdiocese, with Stefan, a monk from Alvastra Abbey, being consecrated the first Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of Sweden.The present-day Uppsala was at that time known as Östra Aros and was a port town of Gamla Uppsala. In 1274, Östra Aros overtook Gamla Uppsala as the main regional center, and when the cathedral of Gamla Uppsala burnt down, the archbishopric was moved to Östra Aros, and the impressive Uppsala Cathedral (or the "doom-church") erected and was inaugurated 1435.

Uppsala is the site of the oldest university in Scandinavia, founded in 1477. Carolus Linnaeus, one of the renowned scholars of Uppsala University, lived in the city for many years, and both his house and garden can still be visited. Uppsala Cathedral is built in the Gothic style and is one of the largest in northern Europe, with towers reaching 118.70 metres. Uppsala is also the site of the 16th century Uppsala Castle. The city was severely damaged by a fire in 1702. Historical and cultural treasures were also lost, as in many Swedish cities, from demolitions during the 1960s and 1970s, but many historic buildings remain, especially in the western part of the city.

The arms with the lion can be traced from 1737. It has been modernized several times since, most recently in 1986. The meaning of the lion is not certain but is likely connected to the royal lion, also depicted on the Coat of Arms of Sweden.


Situated on the fertile Uppsala flatlands of muddy soil, the city features the small Fyris River (Fyrisån) flowing through the landscape surrounded by lush vegetation. Parallel to the river runs the glacial ridge of Uppsalaåsen, at an elevation of circa 30 metres the site of Uppsala's castle from which large parts of the town can be seen. The central park Stadsskogen stretches from the south far into town, with opportunities for recreation for many residential areas within walking distance.

Only some 70 kilometers or 40 minutes by train from the capital, many Uppsala residents work in Stockholm. The train to Stockholm-Arlanda Airport takes only 17 minutes, rendering the city easily accessible by air.

The commercial centre of Uppsala is quite compact. While some beautiful buildings remain on the periphery of the central core, especially on the less densely built-up western river bank around the cathedral, castle and university, retail commercial activity is geographically focused on a small number of blocks around the pedestrianized streets and main square, an area that was subject to a large-scale metamorphosis during the economically booming years in the 1960s in particular. During recent decades, a significant part of the retail commercial activity has shifted to shopping malls and stores situated in the outskirts of the city. Meanwhile, the built-up areas have expanded greatly, and some suburbanization has taken place.


Today Uppsala is well established in medical research and recognized for its leading position in biotechnology.

Higher education

The old University is by far the largest of the five institutions.

Sites of interest

The Fyris river neatly divides the city into two different parts: the historic quarter to the west of the river and the administrative, residential and commercial area to the east. Most of the features of interest are in the western part, dominated by the cathedral, and with its old streets, river views and parks.

The most outstanding building in Uppsala is the Domkyrka (Uppsala Cathedral), Scandinavia's largest church (118.70m high), which is visible from most parts of town and from the motorway.

Facing the west end of the cathedral is the Gustavianum, built in 1625 to be the main building of the University, and served as such through most of the 19th century. It contains the Museum of Nordic Antiquities, the Victoria Museum (of Egyptian antiquities) and the University's cultural history collections. It also houses a perfectly preserved 17th-century Anatomical Theatre (used in its time for public dissections).

Across the street from the Gustavianum stands the new main building of the Uppsala University, erected in 1879–86 in Italian Renaissance style. The Uppsala University Coin Cabinet is located in the university main building.

Not very far from the University stands the Uppsala University Library (Carolina Rediviva), also the largest library in Sweden, with over 5 million volumes and some 60,000 manuscripts. The building was built in 1820–1841.

On a circa 35-metre high hill to the southwest of the University Library stands Uppsala Castle. Its construction was initiated in 1549 by King Gustav Vasa, founder of the Wasa royal dynasty and the first Swedish monarch to inherit the crown. Today the castle holds several museums, and is the residence of the Governor (landshövding).

5km north of Uppsala lies Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), the location of the pre Christian town Uppsala. There are few remains, with the exception of several huge burial mounds of pre-Christian monarchs and the previous cathedral from 1164 A.D., traditionally said to be built over the old heathen temple (and recent archaeological investigations seems to support this notion). After the church burned down around 1240 only parts of it were restored.[3] [4]

Notable natives

Of these, Arrhenius, Bergman, Blix, Carlsson, Celsius, both Erikssons, Hallman, Klum, Stolt and Törnqvist were born in Uppsala.

Twin cities

See also: Town twinning. Uppsala has been twinned with cities in the other four Nordic countries since 1947. The city was officially twinned with Tartu, Estonia in 1988, with Daejeon, South Korea in 1999 and with Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA in 2000.

[5] [6]

See also

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Tätorternas landareal, folkmängd och invånare per km2 2000 och 2005. Statistics Sweden. xls. Swedish. 2008-05-15.
  2. http://www.scb.se/statistik/MI/MI0810/2005A01/mi0810tab5.xls Population in December 31, 2005 official statistics
  3. http://www.raa.se/cms/extern/se_och_besoka/gamla_uppsala.html
  4. http://www.svenskakyrkan.se/pastorat/gamlauppsala/kyrkobyggnader/gamlis/gamlis.htm
  5. http://www.uppsala.se/uppsala/templates/StandardPage____3580.aspx Uppsala's official web site: five twin cities
  6. https://www.uppsala.se/uppsala/templates/MediaMonitoringPage____12821.aspx Uppsala's official web site: Minneapolis