a night with the guide in Uppsala
As I tried to prove here, Uppsala can be seen during one day and still you can leave with a feeling of doing a proper job. The goal of this text below is not to convince anyone to do the extreme opposite and stay there for a week. For me four days were enough. I left the city on the fifth day with relief and being satisfied. So whatever I describe below, treat it merely as advice. Choose from my suggestions those places which you find suitable and decide for yourself, if you want to create two days plan or a longer one.
In order to avoid repeating myself, I will be expanding the express guide here. We will be adding new objects and places, you don't have to skip anything. Unfortunately, I won't recommend any place to spend your night in Uppsala – I found my accommodation though Airbnb, which have never let me down so far – and for the same reason I won't recommend any place to eat. If you won't count ICA in, because there I did my groceries for my whole stay in Uppsala. I prepared all meals at home, what helped me to save some money (or at least I try to tell that to myself). Only once I bought coffee "down town", but with coffee in this country things are marvellous - it is always and everywhere exquisite. So, I don't recommend anything, but wherever you go, it is gonna be tasteful (as long as you avoid chain coffee shops, but I guess this rule applies to all countries).
Okay, enough of that digressions, let's start sightseeing.
I still strong suggest that you should start your day with Gamla Uppsala Museum. There you can choose between visiting the museum or just walking around the hills and/or the church. This is the only trip outside of town (i.e. you wouldn't go there on foot and prefer to pay for the transport), all other objects mentioned in this text are the walking distance. As I mentioned in the express guide, after returning from Gamla Uppsala let's have a lunch break and then go back to sightseeing.
Uppsala, like all places in Sweden, is strong in green. So especially, when we have more time, I strongly recommend the botanical garden, parks and cemeteries. South from the central station and west from the river, you can visit Stadsparken. It is a city park, founded in the end of the 19th century. You can walk all over it or just enter and sit by the river coast and relax. Park is located between the river and Sjukhusvägen street (I wonder how odd those combinations of words are for Swedes – Hospital street street...). And if we follow that street south, we end up by a hill, covered with trees. Between them there is hidden the only object that I recommend to see in that part of the city. Of course, walking in the forest it beneficial by itself, but our goal is Sten Sture Monument. This statue, made of granite by Carl Milles, is devoted to Sten Sture the Elder, the victor of battle of Brunkeberg in 1471. Sten Sture led the Swedes into a fight against the Danish army and the Kalmar Union. The work on the monument took place from 1902 until February the 13th 1925, when it was showed to the public.
After this kind of physical exercise we can go back down and march towards the city centre, not worrying about our daily reps of push-ups, but maybe about what we are going to eat for dessert today. We can walk around the castle and the botanical garden, which along with Carolina Rediviva I described in the express guide. We want to find ourselves behind the main university library, facing the trees. This teeny tiny green spot that we see in front of us is Carolinaparken. Despite that it is not overwhelming with its size, it has proud of being the oldest public park in Sweden – it was founded in the beginning of the 19th century. Thanks to Owe Owe Thörnqvista “Ruma i engelska parken” from 1955 it is also known as the English Park.
At this point I won't surprise you here with anything new. You know already about the castle and the botanical garden on your left (if you are still facing Carolinaparken), so let's turn right and go towards Gamla Kyrkogården. It is beautifully kept, diverse in form cemetery. It's much bigger than Carolinaparken, there are significantly fewer people here and this place will fulfil our need of having a relaxing walk. The cemetery was established in the end of 18th century for several reasons. First of all, churches were filled to maximum with nobility's tombstones and cemeteries around them could not be extended due to growing urban tissue. A new place, outside of the city, was needed. Besides, in 1785, doctor Johan Lorentz Odhelius in the presence of king Gustav III gave a lecture about necessity of limiting burials in churches due to medical issues.
It is usually a good idea to spend some time around the cathedral. Like in good old medieval times, combine church and university. As I mentioned in the express guide, a visit in the cathedral can take up to forty minutes, and now you can expend it by looking at the surrounding buildings.
economical version: the entrance to the cathedral is still for free as for the church that stands beside it. It is not an extraordinary example of architecture, but it is a place important for its history.
less economical version: there is one place in the cathedral that I have almost overlooked and then I would have regretted it. I am speaking about the treasury. The entrance is located in the gift shop, so during my first visit there I missed those doors, squeezed between cards for the game „How much do you know about Luther” and books about the history of the cathedral. And now I have a small problem with recommending this place. I was delighted with it, with seeing some preserved royal insignia, medieval clothes (among them queen Maragret's dress) or items of clothing worn by the members of the Sture family, who were murdered by the order of Erik XIV. But that's me. I can imagine that someone not being into those themes will be bored and think of this as wasting of time and money. If you believe that it is decent to pay for seeing royal insignia of kings and queens of Sweden, save this money and spend it on a ticket to the treasury in the Royal Castle in Stockholm. Although here you can get those small, cool flash lights and you can use them.
price : 50 kronas, group ticket 35 koronas per person, free entrance for people under the age of 17
In the range of several dozen meters from the cathedral, looking into every direction, you can spot university's buildings. I was so lucky that some of them were under the reconstruction works during my visit and those left in peace were... boring. But thanks to this part of our walk we can tick the point „getting to know the city” off the list. And by accident you can find a place for your dinner, win win.
Between the church and the cathedral you can spot bland both in colour and in character Dean House. In medieval times it served as a canon house. Present name originates probably from the reign of John III, who bestowed this building to a professor of theology. From 1575 the professor was also given the title of dean. During reformation Dean House became a property of the Crown and changed the owner several times in the 17th century. The appraiser of the royal court Peter Julin bought the building in 1741. He became the bursar of the university, was ennobled and granted the name of Julinsköld, so his home was known as the Julinsköld palace from now on. In 1746 the property went through renovation, which made it the most magnificent private residence in Uppsala. In 1768 Peter Julinsköld went bankrupt and the palace was taken over by the university and sold. In 1835 it was bought by the cathedral chapter, wanting to make a cathedral school in it. During their ownership the palace gained the neoclassical appearance. The cathedral school moved out in 1869 and since then Dean House changes owners regularly, now being a space for renting an office. It is not possible to see its interiors.
From Dean House we can pass the cathedral and stop by Senate House and Ecclesiasticum. Both of those buildings are located on Sankt Eriks Torg. The Senate House was designed by Carl Hårleman, finished in the 1750s (life hack: if you are not sure when Hårleman built something, go with 1730s-1750s, in 90% it is true. You have no idea in how many situations this information was lifesaving). The origin of its name it not a surprise – senate, a governing body of the university, was located here, up until 1887. Then the senate moved out and was replaced by several university's departments, among them history of art. Ecclesiasticum was built around the same time. The chapter moved out from it in the 1830s. In the 20th century the building was used as a parish's office and the dean's office. Now there are several tenants, among them coffee house.
You have to draw tourists in, so the description of Ekerman House in the guide starts like this: behind this rococo facade, Ekerman's students supposedly were buying their doctorate in Latin for 200 pennies in the 18th century. Well, I am more delighted with those painted windows. Peter Ekerman was a professor in Latin and his house was built in 1761. The interiors are said to be preserved in the original form, but are not open to visitors. In the 19th century this residence was used as a county hospital. The present university hospital was built in 1868, so the patients were moved from Ekerman's house. Since then until 2005 the property was used by the department of history and Egyptology (therefore sometimes it's called as Historicum). Since 2008 it belongs to the Church of Sweden.
The main university building is my another failure in Uppsala. I come to the city known for its cathedral and university and on the last day I remind myself of the latter. It was mostly due to the fact that many university's buildings, among them the main one, were during the reconstruction, so one couldn't see what was passed by. By the present main university building the cornerstone was placed by the king Oscar II in spring of 1879. It was designed by Herman Teodor Holmgren and the inauguration took place in 1887. In the main auditorium 1,800 listeners can be seated. Today the building serves mostly for giving lectures, holding conferences or the graduation ceremony.
By the university you can find the university park (clever). In the 18th century it was merely a garden, surrounded by a fence. Thore Fries, a botanic professor, ordered to plant several types of trees in the garden, so his students could learn how to recognize them. Now, in the centre of the park, stands a monument of Erik Gustaf Geijer, Swedish historian and poet. Beside him, you can find there also nine rune stones, gathered here from the outer parts of the region.
Definitely the best spot surrounding the cathedral is Gustavianum. This place deserves a separate post, so here are only basic informations. It is the oldest building of the university. It was built by the order of Gustav II Adolph in the 1620s and it took the name after the king. Originally, printing-house, canteen and dormitories were located here. Professor Olof Rudbeck wanted a room for teaching anatomy class. This room is crowned with the dome, that for sure you cannot miss from the outside. The room was designed in a form of the Roman amphitheatre, with seats around the central point, where the autopsy was taking place. The only source of light was the hole in the dome, letting the sunlight in. The dome is crowned with a sundial in a shape of a globe. Okay, I admit it, I laughed at first when I saw it, but then I entered the museum and I was delighted. Still in the 20th century, Gustavianum was occupied by different departments. In the 1997 a museum was located here. The exhibits present the university's history, as well as the history of the development of science. So if you want to visit it, it is a less economical version, because the value of this place is measured thanks to what is inside. However, you can enter the toilets for free, another life hack.
price: 50 koronas, students and seniors 40 kronas, free entrance for people under the age of 19
Upplandsmuseet is one of those places that I am not sure if I should (can?) recommend it. I was not astonished by anything there, I found some exhibits that were cringy, exhibitions themselves I did in the express pace, the temporary exhibition was not well-prepared in English, and the gift shop was okay. But in general – it is for free, nicely located, in the centre of the city, so why not? The museum is situated in the university mill from the 1760s, beside the Fyrisån river.
entrance: free entrance
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