The history of the Gamla Uppsala Church dates back to the 11th century, when the first church was built on the site of a former pagan temple.
It burnt down in the middle of the 13th century and was later rebuilt. The current appearance is from the 14/15th century and the building is much smaller than the original church.
When I came to Gamla Uppsala on foot, a burial was just about to start in the church, so that I didn't have a chance to see the interior of it.
The Gamla Uppsala Church stands in Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), which is situated about 5 km north of Uppsala's city centre. It can be reached on foot via the well signed St. Erik's Trail (Eriksleden). Gamla Uppsala is also served by the city buses #2 and #110.
Address: Gamla Uppsala Church, Disavägen 8, 754 40 Uppsala
The 3 Royal Mounds of Gamla Uppsala are said to be the burial sites of a Swedish royal dynasty from the 6th century.
They are known as Eastern, Middle and Western Mound. During excavations of the latter one in 1874 several ancient remains were found.
Nowadays the mounds are completely fenced off and well signposted hiking paths lead around the area.
The Royal Mounds of Gamla Uppsala are situated about 5 km north of Uppsala's city centre. They are located just south of the Gamla Uppsala Church. They can be reached on foot via the well signed St. Erik's Trail (Eriksleden). Gamla Uppsala is also served by the city buses #2 and #110.
About a 45 minute walk northbound of Uppsala train station are the archaeological grounds of Gamla Uppsala. Most of the stroll outbound has a nice green background, and pleasant enough to bound around the grounds. As you walk round the grounds, you will see the mounds in the surrounds. And all you will see on the grounds are the mounds, and still more mounds in the foreground and background. While these mounds are bound to contain mounds and mounds archaeological sights and sounds about life in this region centuries ago, be advised that, for an ordinary ground pounder, there is little to astound or hold you spellbound. That said, we spent a pleasant 3 hours as we wound around the grounds of mounds.
I hope through this verbal compound you haven't frowned.
Sweden was the last European country to be Christianised & the heart of the pagan Norse resistance was the now university town of Gamla-Uppsala. The pagan burial mounds on the outskirts of the urban boundary mark where the ancient Viking temple & counsel met, & are an essential visit if this episode of history intrigues you. I walked to the site in early March, when the ground was still under snow, adding to the severe atmosphere of the place, where a solitary magpie & raven also braved the wintry scene...
Having read extensively on Norse folklore, my pilgrimage was meaningful, but to a casual visitor, there is not much to experience, but 3 grassy mounds, with some fencing around the perimeter. The old church, adjacent to the burial mounds is perhaps the central feature of attraction in this area, so deserted it feels untouched by time. A visitor information board summarises the significance of the site in a Swedish, understated way, which appeals to me...
Enthusiasts for Viking folklore should also make a point of visiting the university, where it is possible to examine close-up, some ancient runic stones in the grounds. Runic script was the Norse alphabet, akin to Celtic 0gham, & this documentary evidence, set to outlast the centuries in solid stone, gives the LIE to pro-roman, revisionist history, that condemns all heathen tribes as illiterate barbarians...
Gamla Uppsala is essentially an archaeological site..
Here,the most powerful ancient kings were buried-6th century-("Ynglingar" ,but if I em wrong about name,please correct me..I em much interesting!).
I have walked on the long path-6km I guess-under a
thin rain...much suggestive!
Here you can read some interesting note about the
history of the place....
Unfortunately I have found the museum closed,like
EVERY museum I have searched in Uppsala:"come
in Summer!" I have often heard saying to me...incredible!I have faced the cold and rain to come
in Sweden and I find all closed because It is not a
(Italian,translate it by yourself..)
Contact notes and address about museum:
The old Viking Tombs 'Gamla Uppsala Högar'
Tombs dating back to the 500th and 600th centuries when Gamla Uppsala (litt. Old Uppsala) was a commercial and religious centre. In these days the place was called Östra Aros. (East Aros)
After Sweden had been converted to Chritianity as one of the last countries in Europe, a church was built on the spot of an old heathen temple dedicated to the gods of the Vikings here in Gamla Uppsala. To this day a church stands on this spot, but the present one is newer, ablet older than many others.
After embracing the new monotheistic religion, however, Swedes, like many other people, continued to believe in the old Gods for quite some time and it was not unusual to wear both christian and heathen symbols - for extra protection perhaps.
Stroll around the area and imagine what it was like in the hethen days when the bodies of the sacrificed humans and animals hung in the trees. Visit the newly opened museum and learn more about the history of the place.
At Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala) you'll find 3 mounds (or tombs) from the 6th century of what it's believed to be kings. According to some myths, 3 Norse gods, Thor, Odin and Frej, are the ones supposed to be buried there.
Besides the royal mounds, there's a museum with displays of finds of the mounds and information about myths and tales, among other things. Information on the website below.
When Sweden was Christianised in the 11th century, a church was built here, next to the King's Hall, which was in fact much bigger than what you can see today even if the remains of walls can still be seen here and there in the now smaller church. The church grew to become a cathedral in the very important Uppsala, before being degraded in 1270. This was because the Fyris river had started to silt up out here and the town had to move to the village of Östra Aros, three kilometres downstream. In connection with the diocese moving to Östra Aros, that village in turn had to change its name to Uppsala - the city we now know - as the Pope would otherwise not agree with the move. In the 15th century, the church left at Old Uppsala got the looks it has today after having suffered a fire just after the degradation. I found it a very pretty church and the setting makes it particularly peaceful.
At the back of Old Uppsala, Disagården is a lovely little Open Air Museum, belonging to Upplands Museum, focusing on local Uppland farm architecture. Several old farmsteads have been placed here and you can walk in and out of stables, pantries and such. There are also some animal enclosures with sheep and hens as well as a stage where children can borrow toys, making it the ideal place for young children visiting Uppsala in summer which is when it is open.
The museum is of course tied to the burial mounds. Here, you find out about the digs througout centuries and who historians think are in the mounds but also how debates have taken place throughout history as to the gender of the buried. You also learn about how things were first glorified during the national-romantic era and then so well concealed in shame after WWII events that not even young Uppsalians knew what the mounds really were about when they instead skied on them in winter. There is also a general exhibition that puts the vikings in perspective to the rest of Europe's history and tells you about viking nobility and ordinary people and that the two groups worshipped different Norse gods - some noble, some nature gods. It is also interesting to read about what the religous Adam of Bremen thought of the heathen temple at Ubsola during his northern travels at the time. He describes the remains of human sacrifices hanging from trees and such, which we today do not know if it was an exaggeration to promote Christianity in Europe or if he was in fact telling the truth.
The architecture of the building itself was much debated too when it was built. Locals hated it and said it was in the way and that the design was odd. To me, it looks just like it was meant to - like some sort of viking hall. A very nice feature is the arena style seatings where you can listen to legends about Old Uppsala in earphones and which has a huge glass window, overlooking the mounds. There is also a good souvenir shop here, although you're already into viking things, you will find that it has pretty much the same items for sale as in York, Roskilde and other typical viking destinations and that the books are the only really local things.
One of Scandinavia's most famous heritage burial sites and by far the biggest religious complex, even if Anundshög mound in Västerås is higher. There are three main burial mounds and five smaller from around 500 A.D. and you can walk along paths around them as you are no longer allowed to walk ON them unless as part of a guided tour which happens some afternoons in high season. Throughout history, you have been able to walk on them and in particular, this happened in the mid 20th century when local Uppsala people used the mounds for skiing on, before having hot chocolate in nearby Odinsborg!
No one knows for sure who were buried here. The main mounds have men's names, from noble viking families, but an interesting issue is that it could in fact be female graves. The reason is that when they were dug out in the 19th century, no weapons were found amongst all sacrificial items in the graves. This is supported by the fact that women's role in society was a much bigger one in Scandinvia at viking times than after Christianisation.
To this day a Christian church stands at the spot of the old hethen temple in Gamla Uppsala. This church dates back to the 1300s so it is not exactly young itself!
The smallish church has a stone exterior and some interesting painting on the inside.
Actually, most countryside churches in Sweden were once full of paintings on the walls and ceilings, but many were chalked white some hundreds years ago. At some places the original paintings have been restaured.
While at Gamla Uppsala, also check out preserved farmhouse of Disagården. (see my travelogue named Midsummer in Sweden on my Sweden page for photos from Disagården).
Inside the church there are wall- and roof paintings from the 15th century. And you can see some artefacts from medieval time, for example a bishop’s seat, a wooden statue of Mary and the child and crucifixes. There are also some bridal crowns and cups, which are a few hundred years old.
The church in Old Uppsala started to be built in the 1050s, after Sweden had become Christian. Hundred years later it became a big cathedral, larger than the church standing there today. After a fire in 1245 some parts were torn down.
The church is built in grey stone and the bell-tower beside the church in wood.
5 km north of Uppsala is old Uppsala, where there are three big burial mounds and several small ones. The big burial mounds are from the 6th century and might be graves for kings. When I visited as a kid one could walk up and down the mounds but that is not possible now. Nowadays there is a walking path around the mounds and along the way there are several signs with information, also in English. It is believed Old Uppsala was a place of heathen worship and that the church was built over an old temple.
The archbishop seat was moved to Old Uppsala (then only Uppsala) in 1130. But as the River Fyris silted up ships could no longer go far up the river and East Aros some kilometres down the river became a more important place for trade. When it was time to build a new cathedral it was built in East Aros, but the name Uppsala still had to be used for the town of the archbishop seat, so East Aros became Uppsala and former Uppsala became Uppsala.
To go to Old Uppsala (Gamla Uppsala) you can take bus number 2 from the city centre of Uppsala. The last stop for the bus is Gamla Uppsala, close to the burial mounds. You can also take number 91, 110 127.