Uppsala is the county seat of Uppsala County and the fourth-largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. It had 177,074 inhabitants in 2019. Located 71 km (44 mi) north of the capital Stockholm it is also the seat of Uppsala Municipality. Since 1164, Uppsala has been the ecclesiastical centre of Sweden, being the seat of the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden. Uppsala is home to Scandinavia’s largest cathedral – Uppsala Cathedral. Founded in 1477, Uppsala University is the oldest centre of higher education in Scandinavia. Among many achievements, the Celsius scale for temperature was invented there.
The city is the site of the oldest university in Scandinavia, founded in 1477, and is where Carl Linnaeus, one of the renowned scholars of Uppsala University, lived for many years; both his house and garden can still be visited. 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 bearing the lion can be traced to 1737 and have been modernised several times, most recently in 1986. The meaning of the lion is uncertain, but is likely connected to the royal lion, also depicted on the Coat of Arms of Sweden.
In ecclesiastical terms, the place has always belonged to Uppsala parish, from 1961 called Uppsala cathedral parish. The incorporated parts of Uppsala belong to Gamla Uppsala parish, Helga Trefaldighets parish and Vaksala parish. After parish break-up in 1974, parts of the town are located in Gottsunda parish. After further building expansion, some are also in Denmark-Funbo parish, before 2010 in Denmark parish.
Until 1971, the town was part of the district court for Uppsala City Hall Court and has been part of the Uppsala Court since 1971. The Fyris river (Fyrisån) neatly divides the city into two different parts: the historic quarter to the west of the river and the modern administrative, residential and commercial city centre to the east. Most of the historical sights and university buildings are in the western part, with a medieval street layout, river views and parks and dominated by the cathedral.
The most outstanding building in Uppsala is the Domkyrka (Uppsala Cathedral), Scandinavia’s largest church building (118.70 m (389.44 ft) high). Together with Uppsala Castle it has dominated Uppsala’s skyline since its construction in the 13th century and can be seen from a long distance outside the city, other tall buildings being rare.
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). Next to Gustavianum is the 18th century Archbishop’s Palace, the official residence of the Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala and the primate of the Church of Sweden.
Across the street from the Gustavianum in the University Park stands the University Hall, erected in 1879–86 in Italian renaissance style. The Uppsala University Coin Cabinet is located in the university main building. Not far from the University stands the Uppsala University Library (Carolina Rediviva), the largest library in Sweden, with over 5 million volumes and some 60,000 manuscripts. The building was built in 1820–41. 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 Vasa royal dynasty. Today the castle holds several museums, among them the regional art museum, and is the residence of the Uppsala County Governor (landshövding).
There are several botanical museums in Uppsala related to the world-famous 18th century botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus; the Botanic Garden next to the castle, the Linnaean Garden in the city centre, and Linnaeus Hammarby, Linnaeus’ summer house in the countryside village of Danmarks Hammarby south of the city.