A historical and culturally rich city like Uppsala is of course full of exciting museums. Are you looking to try some of Uppsala’s best in one day, or do you want tips on the next museum to visit? Try one of the museums in this guide, or hit the big time and go on our tour!
Historical and cultural Uppsala
Whether you have been an Uppsala resident for several years or a curious tourist on a journey of discovery, museums are always a good place to spend a few enjoyable hours. And in Uppsala, the museum scene is colourful. As one of the country’s oldest cities, Östra Aros, as Uppsala was called until the 13th century, has a rich historical and cultural capital. One of the city’s foremost prides has also given rise to several museums; Uppsala University, the Nordic region’s first higher education institution, has since its founding in 1477 nurtured great researchers such as Carl von Linné and Olof Rudbeck – who both left a mark on the Uppsala map in the form of museums of their own.
A tour of Uppsala’s museums
The bag is packed, your bouncy walking shoes are newly tied and you feel the historical and artistic winds grab your clothes. Now your full day at the museum begins! But where should you go? Follow this list and treat yourself to an enriching tour of a mixed bag of Uppsala’s museums.
The Museum of Evolution, Villavägen 9
In the southwestern, but nonetheless centrally located district of Kåbo, we find our first stop. And what better place to start the museum tour than the one that explains our beginnings? With the tantalising slogan “meet your origins”, the Natural History and Zoological Museum of Evolution welcomes its visitors to a paleontological paradise. In a safe version of Jurassic Park, thanks to the fact that all its non-human inhabitants are remnants of formerly living beings, both large and small can explore the captivating world that minerals, fossils and especially dinosaurs. With the Nordic region’s most extensive collection of dinosaur skeletons, it is guaranteed that no Darwin fan will be left disappointed.
Carolina Rediviva, Dag Hammarskjölds Väg 1
For a slightly faster walk, take the ten-minute road from the Botanical Garden to Uppsala University Library. We are of course talking about Carolina Rediviva, the stately building which, from its elevated position at the end of Drottninggatan, looks out over the heart of the city. For many it is a classic Uppsala landmark marking the beginning or end of the city centre, for others a gathering point during the Walpurgis celebrations where in recent years, masses have been held to the lilting sounds of the male choir Orphei Drängar, but for the city’s students it may well be the physical symbol of essay stress and exam anxiety. During the weekdays, and the holidays for that matter, all the building – friendly nooks and crannies of the building are filled with sometimes studious, sometimes procrastinating students.
But they are not the ones you are there to see. In addition to being classed as an impressively beautiful edifice from the last century, the country’s oldest library offers a number of exhibitions, among which the kiosk giant must be considered the one showing the Silver Bible. The Codex argenteus, as it is called in Latin, is, despite its Swedish translation, not a regular bible, but a record of the Gospels in the now extinct language of Gothic. The book has also played something of a leading role in a drama that Olof Rudbeck the Elder was the author of; in an attempt to make Uppsala the seat of the western world, he made changes to the texts to make it appear that Jesus himself visited one of the city’s temples.
The Uppland County Museum, S:t Eriks torg 10
The Uppland County Museum is a county museum of cultural history. Here you can learn more about the history of Uppsala city and about Uppland’s ancient times over 5000 years. There are also current exhibitions on various themes with both an Uppland focus and global perspectives.
Closed due to exhibition updates between October 2023-spring 2024.
Uppsala Art Museum, Uppsala castle
Since 1995, Uppsala Art Museum has had its premises in Uppsala Castle. On three exhibition levels, you get to take part in modern and contemporary art through the museum’s collections and temporary exhibitions. We also recommend a visit to the Museum Bar & Café which has a rich selection on the menu with light dishes, buttered bread, afternoon tea and coffee as well as fully licensed facilities.
The Botanical Garden, Villavägen 6-8
Just as the address reveals, you barely have time to blink before you come out of the Museum of Evolution and are in front of the Botanical Garden. This plant complex consists of several different parts, or gardens in the garden if you like: the magnificent baroque garden, the both stately and soothing orangery called the Linneanum and the map-like plant systemic neighbourhoods. As if that were not enough, there is also the city’s only rainforest in the tropical greenhouse – a fantastic getaway during the darker and especially colder months.
With a total of 8,000 plants in the vegetation armoire, the Botanical Garden can not only boast an ocean of growing and flowering things, but also with ancestry from Carl von Linné himself. The Botanical Garden forms, together with Linnaeus’ Hammarby and the Linnaeus Garden, namely what are called the Linnaean Gardens. Exactly how they are connected is a bit complicated, so stay tuned: The botanical garden was previously located where what is today called the Linnaeus Garden is located. After Linnaeus’ death, an apprentice made sure that it was moved to its current address on Villavägen, as the former location near the Fyris river meant regular flooding. Anyway, today the Baroque garden and the orangery are state monuments. Not bad to have two of them in one place, is it?
Gamla Uppsala museum, Disavägen 15
To round off your museum day on a high note, it’s a good idea to head out of town – both for fresh air and a chance to get more exercise. By bike, but of course also by public transport, you can easily reach Gamla Uppsala museum in 20 minutes. It has a historical focus but is not very old in itself, the wooden building was inaugurated in 2000. However, its surroundings have an even older and almost mythical atmosphere. The King’s Mounds, also known as the Royal mounds, is the eye-catching view that the museum has and the reason for its location. During the Iron Age, there was a prosperous society where some believed that the mounds were just hills, while others heard myths about the remains of pagan gods. In 1846, they found out what it really was like, and the excavations erased the question marks: the mounds were graves. They contained the remains of people who lived during 500 BC, but from whom exactly is not known. Not today, at least. The Gamla Uppsala museum tells us about this enigmatic place and exciting archaeology.
Vasaborgen, Uppsala castle
Vasaborgen is a museum located in the old 16th century ruins of Uppsala Castle. Terrible things have happened here, including the terrible Sture murders in 1567. To visit Vasaborgen and explore the original Uppsala castle that Gustav Vasa started building in 1549, you need to pre-book your ticket. Note! Vasaborgen is only open during the summer, from June to August.
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