If you are looking to get in touch with your inner Viking or just to escape Stockholm for the day, think Uppsala. Open for business and pleasure since 1286, Uppsala is one of Sweden’s most enticing cities.
Home to Scandinavia’s oldest university, the city today hosts two universities and is a hub for biotechnology. Uppsala is a short, 50-minute drive from Stockholm and approximately 20 minutes from Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. In the city’s outskirts, Scandinavia’s prehistoric and Viking heritage is revealed in a number of compelling archaeological sites. Within a day tour, visitors can blend a rich historical journey with a great urban experience.
Sweden’s First Capital
The Uppsala Castle and Uppsala Cathedral are the city’s most prominent landmarks. The castle was built by King Gustav I (Gustav Vasa) in 1549, the rebel who brought independence and the Reformation to Sweden and the first of its hereditary monarchs. The castle was seriously damaged in 1702 and reconstructed. Today it serves as the residence of the Governor of Uppsala County and its dungeon houses a Swedish history museum. Guided tours in English and Swedish are conducted in the summer months.
Towering over the city landscape, the Gothic Uppsala Cathedral (Domkyrkan) is the largest cathedral in Scandinavia. Constructed in 1287, it was also damaged in the 1702 fire but only restored at the end of the 19th century, when it received its signature twin spires. Inside, the French Gothic covered walkway is the cathedral’s main architectural highlight. Its main historical feature is the golden coffin containing the relics of St. Erik, patron saint of Sweden, the tomb of Gustav Vasa and that of the botanist Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy and former Uppsala University professor.
Gardens and Graduates
Founded in 1477 by the Catholic Church, Uppsala University was the Scandinavia’s first university. From a handful of students and staff, the university grew over the centuries into one of the pre-eminent research and educational institutions in Europe and one of the 100 top ranked universities in the world.
Gustavianum is the university’s oldest preserved building, which today houses the anatomical theatre, the Augsburg Art Cabinet and a permanent exhibit outlining the University’s long and illustrious history. The University’s Botanical Garden is where Linnaeus developed his taxonomy of plants. Located below the castle, this garden is considered one of Sweden’s most beautiful parks.
Nordic Nite Cap
Uppsala is in a state of transition. Once a sleepy ivory tower town, the infusion of young people, many from outside Sweden, has sparked Uppsala’s rejuvenation. The once dormant district near the old railway station is now the site of buzzing cafes, boutiques, bistros and bars. Stationen, a bistro bar located in the old 19th century train station, is a popular spot. On the other side of the tracks, an old brick building called Godsmagasinet houses a number of venues, including Katalin, one of Uppsala’s veteran and prime venues for live music. Completed in 2007, the Uppsala Konsert & Kongress centre is the city’s new downtown centerpiece. Enjoy a concert, a cup of coffee or just experience the building, designed by the renowned Danish architect, Johnny Svendborg, and the view of one of Sweden’s most interesting big small towns.