University Main Building
The University Main Building is situated in the centre of the town, close to the cathedral. It was built in the 1880s and today it is used for lectures, conferences, concerts and academic festivities.
Parliament had allocated funding, and King Oscar II laid the cornerstone in pouring rain on a spring day in 1879. The site was formerly occupied by a large academic riding building, which was torn down for the new edifice. On 17 May 1887 the building was inaugurated at a festive ceremony. The architect was Herman Teodor Holmgren.
What he created was a grand and stately structure in a sort of Romanesque Renaissance style. The strange thing is that, despite much modernising and functional changes, we still experience largely the same building that visitors encountered in the 1880s. Its magnificent and spacious foyer with its light cupolas and the Grand Auditorium, which seats about 1800, gives us a good idea of the best of 19th-century Swedish architecture. Above the entrance to the Aula we read the often-quoted words of the 18th-century philosopher Thomas Thorild: “To think freely is great, but to think rightly is greater.”
There are many other grand rooms in the building. On the ground floor, the University Board convenes in a room with portraits of all the Swedish kings from Gustavus Wasa to Gustavus VI Adolphus. On the upper level there is the Chancellor’s Room, where the University’s Vice-Chancellor receives prominent guests. This room, like a series of other connecting rooms, is adorned with numerous portraits depicting kings, cultural figures, and above all professors who have been active at the University over the centuries. In one of the rooms there is a famous group picture representing the Faculty of Theology in 1911, with Nathan Söderblom as dean. The artist was Emerik Stenberg. Uppsala University’s art collection is one of the largest in the country owned by the Swedish state. The unique coin collection at Uppsala University Coin Cabinet is also housed in the University Main Building.
The erection of the building constituted a great step forward in terms of teaching. The building offered a number of classrooms, many of which are still in use. Previously teaching had been carried out in the Gustavianum, in two cold, unheated rooms.
The University Main Building is also the venue for many academic ceremonies. Each year between 15 and 25 new full professors are solemnly inaugurated in the Grand Auditorium. Another ceremony steeped in atmosphere and tradition is the conferring of degrees, when the year’s recipients of doctor’s degrees receive their doctor’s hat or wreath of laurels – a tradition harking back to the year 1600.
Biskopsgatan 3 (map)
The barrier-free entrance to the University Main Building is located in the corner of St Olofsgatan / Övre Slottsgatan
Seats in the Grand Auditorium