The Domkyrka (Cathedral) of Uppsala is the largest cathedral in all of Scandinavia. The twin-spired, rose-hued Gothic structure stands nearly 400 feet tall and boasts an impressive Gothic interior. Inside are the relics of St. Erik, several notable tombs, and a small museum of ecclesiastical treasures.
History of Uppsala Cathedral
Begun in 1287, Uppsala Cathedral replaced the old, smaller cathedral in Gamla Uppsala. Intended to upstage the colossal Nidaros Cathedral in Norway, it took over a century to complete. Uppsala Cathedral was dedicated to the saints Lawrence (of gridiron fame), Erik (patron saint of Sweden), and Olaf (patron saint of Norway).
The cathedral was consecrated in 1435, with some construction still continuing afterwards. It was severely damaged in 1702 in a disastrous fire and restored near the turn of the 20th century. The twin spires are late 19th-century additions.
What to See at Uppsala Cathedral
Uppsala Domkyrka is made of local brick, giving the structure a unique red color that brightens up the landscape in winter and glows with the sunset in summer. Its spires reach 394 feet (120 meters) in height.
The architectural highlight of the impressive interior is the French Gothic ambulatory, which is bordered by small chapels and bathed in a golden glow.
One chapel contains 14th-century murals depicting the legend of St. Erik, the patron saint of Sweden. The scenes show his coronation, crusade to Finland, and eventual execution at the hands of the Danes. You can visit the relics of St. Erik, interred in a golden coffin, in a chapel off the nave.
Other tombs of notable personages in the cathedral include the Reformation rebel king Gustav Vasa, his son Johan III, the botanist Linnaeus, and the philosopher-theologian Swedenborg, and Sweden's first Lutheran archbishop, Laurentius Petri. There is also a small memorial to Dag Hammarskiöld, former UN Secretary-General.
The interesting candlestick-sculpture in the nave, called the "Tree of the Reconciliation of Man," was created in 1968 on the occasion of the Fourth General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Uppsala. The sculpture was designed by Olof Hellström and constructed by Folke Mattsson.
A small museum in the cathedral displays ecclesiastical relics. Outside, take a look at the cathedral's graveyard, which features many interesting tombstones carved with runes.
Quick Facts on Uppsala Cathedral
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|Coordinates:||59.858200° N, 17.633089° E|
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- Rough Guide to Scandanavia 7 (April 2006), p. 497.
- Frommer's Sweden, 4th ed.
- Uppsala Cathedral Official Website
- Uppsala Cathedral - Wikipedia
Map of Uppsala Cathedral
Below is a location map and aerial view of Uppsala Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.