History of the University Main Building
The University Main Building was built in the 1880s. At the time, it housed all the University’s activities.
Since then, the University has grown a lot and today it is spread throughout the city. The University Main Building is still used for lectures, conferences, concerts and university ceremonies.
The 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 stable, 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 stately structure in a sort of Romanesque Renaissance style. Despite much modernising and functional changes, we still experience essentially 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 people, gives us a good idea of the best of 19th-century Swedish architecture. Above the entrance to the Auditorium we read the often-quoted words of the 18th-century philosopher Thomas Thorild: “To think freely is great, but to think rightly is greater.”
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.