City (pop., 2001 est.: 191,110), Sweden. Located north of Stockholm, it lies near a village which was originally the capital of the ancient pre-Christian kingdom of Svea. By the 13th century it was an important commercial centre. Relinquishing its political primacy to Stockholm, it remained the seat of the archbishop of Sweden; its Gothic cathedral (erected from the 13th–15th centuries) is Sweden's largest. It is also an educational centre, the site of Sweden's oldest university, Uppsala University (founded 1477). It is now an industrial city and transportation hub. Carolus Linnaeus lived there.
Learn more about Uppsala with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Uppsala ˈɵpˌsɑːla (older spelling Upsala) is the capital of Uppsala County (Uppsala län) and the fourth largest city of Sweden with 128,400 inhabitants. Together with suburban Sävja it forms a conurbation with over 138,000 inhabitants.
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 Sweden's head archbishop. Founded in 1477, the Uppsala University is the oldest center of higher education in Scandinavia.
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 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 can best be described as quite compact: while some beautiful buildings remain in the periphery of the central core, especially on the less intensively built western river bank around the cathedral, castle and university, retail commercial activity is geographically focused to a minor number of blocks around the pedestrianized streets and main square, an area which was subject to large-scale post-World War II metamorphosis during the economically booming years in the 1960s in particular. During recent decades, a significant part of the retail commercial activity has been relocated to shopping malls and stores situated in the outskirts of the city. Alongside with this, the built up areas have expanded in a quite extensive way, and a certain suburbanization has taken place.
Today Uppsala is well established in medical research and recognized for its leading position in biotechnology.
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 building of the Uppsala University, erected in 1879–86 in Italian Renaissance style.
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 modern Swedish kingdom. 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 medieval village of Uppsala. There are few remains, with the exception of three huge burial mounds of pre-Christian monarchs and a 12th-century church.
Of these, Arrhenius, Bergman, Blix, Carlsson, Celsius, Eriksson, Stolt and Hallman were born in Uppsala.