Uppsala is the forth largest city of Sweden and was once the capital of the kingdoms' lands of Svealand, still the name for the central part of the country. For me Uppsala was the first place I visited in Sweden, back in 2001. It later became my hometown for more than a decade.

Uppsala once started further out to where it is now, in a place that is currently renamed in Gamla Uppsala. Here you'll find burial mounds from centuries ago, and every last day of April a huge bonfire to welcome the coming of spring during Valpurgis night. Uppsala later moved to its harbour sister village at the river Fyrisån, and the name of this village subsequently became Uppsala. As a trade, power and religious town it florished, and has up to today Scandinavia's tallest house of worship: the cathedral (domkyrkan) of Uppsala - still the seat of the Swedish church.
Knowledge became another center piece in Uppsala growth, when in 1477 the first university of Sweden and the longest existing of Scandinavia was opened. Life without students is unthinkable in Uppsala, and each region of Sweden has its own "student nation", housed in historic buildings where parties happen often.
While the city itself is vibrant for Swedish standards, escapes to relax are close by. Like the Hågadalen nature area, or the vast Norra Lunsen Nature Reserve.
All combined, Uppsala is certainly worth a shorter and longer stay - with Sweden's main airport Stockholm-Arlanda a short 20-minute train ride away.

Historic image of S:t Erikstorg square, a few years ago. The current visitor will notice minor changes.

Despite being the 4th largest city of Sweden, with more than 250,000 inhabitants in the entire municipality still small compared to mainland Europe, it is relatively easy to discover most of the city centre on foot.
From the exit of the Uppsala Central Station one reach the Fyrisån river in just a few minutes. The river splits the centre into a western and eastern part. Most of the sights and beautiful old streets can be found in the western part.
The eastern part is mainly a shopping area and has undergone a major metamorphosis through applied functionalism in the 1960s and 1970s. Modernization of the cityscape continues here, with city hall only recently expanded and construction ongoing on many spots.
View of the botanical gardens from castle hill
View of the botanical gardens from castle hill
Drottninggatan with Carolina Rediviva, the main university board building, on top of the hill.
Drottninggatan with Carolina Rediviva, the main university board building, on top of the hill.
Drottninggatan (Queens street) features as as set in the MIllennium films.
Drottninggatan (Queens street) features as as set in the MIllennium films.

Järnbron, the Iron Bridge in Uppsala


The former goods magazine at the central railway station, now turned into shops, café and bar/live stage.

The botanical gardens during the yearly spring Festival of Cultures.

Uppsala Domkyrkan
The Domkyrkan, or Uppsala Cathedral, is the tallest religious building of Scandinavia, with a tower height of 118.7 metres (390 feet). Construction started in 1287, but the official opening of the building, built in the Dutch Renaissance style, was not until 1435.
In 1702, the cathedral was damaged in the great city fire and architect Carl Hårleman built two domed towers on it. Colleague Helgo Zetterval gave the church a French-Gothic appearance during the restoration between 1885 and 1893. Zetterval changes the towers according to the French example and adds a third one. He rebuilds many walls to make the cathedral appear smaller. Many of Zetterval's adjustments were later restored.
The church has become a burial place of important people: King Gustav Vasa with his three wives, John III and his wife, botanist Carl von Linné, anatomist and discoverer of the human limb system Olof Rudbeck, the 18th century scientist Emanuel Swedenborg, Archbishop Nathan Söderblom, the 12th century King Erik IX and Sweden's first Lutheran bishop Laurentius Petri. Vasa lies in/under a sarcophagus in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Rare these days: it was -20 degrees Celsius at noon.
Rare these days: it was -20 degrees Celsius at noon.
The cathedral during the yearly Festival of Light in October.
The cathedral during the yearly Festival of Light in October.
Uppsala has the oldest university of Scandinavia, founded in 1477 by Jakob Ulvssons. This puts the academic life of Uppsala two years ahead of the one Copenhagen. During the Reformation, the university in Sweden had to close its doors in 1515, but opened again after the Synod of Uppsala in 1595.
The Uppsala University has produced celebrities. Olof Rodbeck is an influential professor of medicine (discoverer of the lymphatic system), climate organiser Anders Celsius became professor of astronomy here and botanist Carl von Linné started in medicine. Other students included physicist and Nobel Prize winner Kai Siegbahn and the later Secretary General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld.
The Universitetshuset (University House) from 1887 was designed by architect Herman Holmgren. It has a beautiful centre hallway and impressive dome shaped auditorium.

Inside the main university building (Universitetshuset)

When the 15-year-olds are ready to study, and leave elementary school, the town is celebrating. This is called Studentjubel. Photos taken at the Katedralskolan a few years ago.
Hammarskog is a nature reserve around and near an old farm south of the city.
Gamla Uppsala
The old Uppsala (sometimes Ubsola in old texts) has been home to Viking kings and the later kings of Svealand since the year 500. Many Swedes - especially those from the area - therefore consider Uppsala as the cradle of the current state of Sweden. Uppsala literally means “the upper hall”.
Around the turn of the first millennium, the Viking gods saw their influence decimated as people turn to the Christian god. The first church of Uppsala was built and in 1164 the bishop came to live permanently in what is now the Old Uppsala, or Gamla Uppsala. 
More than a century later (1270) he chose a new location in the neighboring village of Östra Aros, which served as the local harbour spot on the river Fyris until then, renaming it in Uppsala.
In all their prosperity in the new city, many Uppsala residents forgot where they came from, until the head of the national monument department, Bror Emil Hildebrandt, conducted an excavation survey north of the city in 1846. He comes across a large burial mound. In ancient times, only very important people were buried in a burial mound and the fact that a second large burial mound (Östhögen) and a third (Västerhögen) are found right next to the first mound (Odins Hög) underlines the importance of the old city, according to Hildebrandt. For whom those indivual burial mounds official were meant, remains a mystery up till today. The historians assume that the ancient kings are buried here and call it the Kungshögar.
The Hågadalen-Nåstens nature reserve is located directly west of Uppsala's residential areas. It is great to run, hike, cycle, ride a horse or relax. According to the municipality biologists, 58 different types of butterflies can be found here, and it has a burial ground from the Viking times. Once it even had a castle. Nowadays the best highrise is King Bear's Hill (King Björns Hög), a grave from the Bronze Age.

Ulva Kvarn
The old mill of the settlement of Ulva is a nice quick escape from city life, just 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) from Uppsala's centre. Mills were active in Ulva up to 1963, and mill activities have been found in texts from the year 1275. The current water mill Ulva Kvarn (kvarn means mill in Swedish) was finished in 1759, and was fully restored a year after the main building burned down in 1998. Ulva kvarn has workshops of craftsmen, shops, a café and a restaurant. The grass field down near the river is a popular sun bathing and picnicking area in summer.
Lennakatten historic rail line
Going eastbound from Uppsala, and back, every summer is the Lennakatten historic railroad. It is entirely managed by volunteers, ever since it started operations on 1968 on tracks previously in use for industrial and passenger traffic. The Lennakatten line is 33 kilometres (20.5 miles) long, and the museum association operates several different trains.
Norra Lunsen Nature Reserve
Directly southeast of Uppsala lies a vast nature area of more than 1,300 hectares. Among the leaving creatures here are 50 rare to find small animals and plants. Overnight stay is free of charge at the cabins close to the city.
Fjällnora Nature Area and Lake Ramsen
Only a 15-minutes drive from the Swedish city of Uppsala lies the Fjällnora Recreation and Nature Area. In Summer the lakes are a popular swim spot. Especially lake Ramsen is a nice hike-around in winter time as well.
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