Uppsala - History

History

Uppsala was originally located a few kilometres to the north, at a location now known as Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala). Today's Uppsala was then called Östra Aros. (Old) Uppsala was, according to medieval writer Adam of Bremen, the main pagan centre of Sweden, and the Temple at Uppsala contained magnificent idols of the Æsir gods.

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 centre, and when the cathedral of Gamla Uppsala burnt down, the archbishopric was moved to Östra Aros, where the impressive Uppsala Cathedral was erected; it was inaugurated in 1435. The cathedral is built in the Gothic style and is one of the largest in northern Europe, with towers reaching 118.70 metres.

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 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.

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