Things to Do in Central Sweden
Uppsala is one of Sweden’s most historic cities; squatting on the banks of the River Fyris, it sophisticated, leafy and dominated by its landmark castle, cathedral and university. The royal castle overlooks the town from its perch at Kasåsen and began life in 1549 at the behest of King Gustav Vasa, who built his fortified home in neat, symmetrical Renaissance style. Over the centuries, it has seen its share of ceremony, intrigue and violence, from coronations to political assassinations and abdications. The shocking murder of three members of the Sture family by the despotic and schizophrenic King Erik XIV took place here in 1567 and their tattered doublets and breeches are on show in Uppsala Cathedral.
The castle was virtually burnt down in 1702 – and much of its fragmented remains plundered to build the Royal Palace in Stockholm – but was subsequently reconstructed in 1740 with its dusty pink façades punctuated by towers on each wing. Today it has a distinctly more peaceful role as the home of three museums: Uppsala Art Museum, where funky modern ceramics from Uppsala Ekeby pottery are displayed along with contemporary Swedish artwork; the Fredens Hus (House of Peace), which highlights social and political conflicts and attempts to resolve them; and the fascinating Vasaborgen in the ruined bastions of the original castle, where the dark deeds of past Swedish monarchs are recounted in graphic detail.
The laid-back and charismatic university city of Uppsala is bisected by the River Fyris and dominated by its landmark castle and cathedral. The latter began life in 1270 to house the reliquary of King Eric IX, who spread Christianity through Sweden and is the patron saint of the country. Constructed in austere red brick and today much renovated, the cathedral is Gothic in style and has two spiky spires that stand 120 m (394 ft) above the city’s rooftops. Its vaulted interior is delicately ornamented with biblical scenes and illuminated through slender stained-glass windows; the side chapels contain the relics of Eric IX in a gold-plated coffin as well as the marble tombs of several Swedish monarchs, including King Gustav Vasa, who commissioned the building of Uppsala Castle in 1549. The botanist Carl Linnaeus, who lived in Uppsala in the 18th century and introduced a classification system for plants that is still in use today, is also buried in the cathedral.
A small treasury museum in the northwest spire exhibits royal funeral crowns and a collection of medieval Far and Middle Eastern textiles. However, pride of place in the museum goes to the tattered doublets and breeches belonging to three members of the Sture family who were murdered at Uppsala Castle in 1567 by the schizophrenic King Erik XIV. Close inspection of the surrounding burial ground reveals Viking runes carved on several gravestones.
Opened in 1787 by Sweden’s King Gustav III, the University of Uppsala Botanical Gardens are one of the city’s most popular destinations. In addition to outdoor gardens and a tropical greenhouse, the grounds house a café, special exhibition hall, and gift shop.
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