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Uppsala Cathedral

Uppsala Cathedral (Swedish: Uppsala domkyrka) is a cathedral located between the University Hall of Uppsala University and the Fyris river in the centre of Uppsala, Sweden. A church of the Church of Sweden, the national church, in the Lutheran tradition, Uppsala Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of Sweden. It is also the burial site of King Eric IX (c. 1120–1160, reigned 1156–1160), who became the patron saint of the nation, and it was the traditional location for the coronation of new Kings of Sweden.

The current archbishop is Antje Jackelén and the current bishop is Karin Johannesson.

The cathedral dates to the late 13th century and, at a height of 118.7 metres (389 ft), it is the tallest church in the Nordic countries. Originally built under Roman Catholicism, it was used for coronations of Swedish monarchs for a lengthy period following the Protestant Reformation. Several of its chapels were converted to house the tombs of Swedish monarchs, including Gustav Vasa and John III. Carl Linnaeus, Olaus Rudbeck, Emanuel Swedenborg, and several archbishops are also buried here.

The church was designed in the French Gothic style by French architects including Étienne de Bonneuil. It is in the form of a cross formed by the nave and transept. Most of the structure was built between 1272 and 1420 but the western end was completed only in the middle of the 15th century. Twin towers were built shortly afterwards on the west end of the church. High spires were added later, but after a fire in 1702, they were adorned with low helms by Carl Hårleman in 1735. They were completely redesigned by Helgo Zetterwall who undertook substantial changes to the building in the 1880s. The cathedral's principal construction material is brick but the pillars and many details are of Gotland limestone.

The vaults were all built according to the original 13th-century plan although some of them were erected as late as around 1440. In addition to the artwork in the funeral chapels, several of the church's older furnishings can be seen in the Treasury Museum. In 1702, many features were destroyed in a major fire. During the renovation work carried out in the 1970s, many of the medieval frescoes which had been whitewashed over after the Reformation were uncovered and restored.

Uppsala Cathedral


At the end of the Viking Era, the pagan temple at Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the north of today's Uppsala, was replaced by a Christian church. Although the exact date of its construction is not known, in 1123 Siward was ordained Bishop of Uppsala by the Archbishop of Bremen-Hamburg. It is however uncertain if Siward ever assumed office, as he had been expelled and was in Germany in the early 1130s. The catalogue of bishops mentions Severeinus as the first bishop, and he may have been the replacement for Siward. Henrik, 'Finland's Apostle', was the fourth bishop. In 1164, Sweden became an archbishopric under the control of Lund. The first archbishop was the Cistercian monk Stefan of Alvastra.

After the cathedral in Gamla Uppsala was damaged by fire in 1204, the Chapter sought permission from the Holy See to move the building to a larger site. Pope Alexander IV granted this request in 1258 on condition that the name of Uppsala be maintained. At a meeting in Söderköping in September 1270, Archbishop Fulco Angelus and the cathedral chapter decided the site should be in Östra Aros. Formal authorization of the move was issued in 1271 by Bishop Carolus of Västerås whom the Pope had appointed to oversee the case.

About 1272, work began on building a new cathedral in Östra Aros near the Fyris River to the south. It was constructed on the site of the earlier stone church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, located almost exactly where the cathedral's chancel now stands.[citation needed] It was here that Sweden's patron saint Eric Jedvardsson had attended mass before he was murdered in 1160. The name of Uppsala was kept, and the surrounding town Östra Aros soon changed its name accordingly. The relics of Saint Eric, the treasure of Uppsala, were moved from Gamla Uppsala to the new site in 1273, along with the formal move of the archbishopric. The church was designed by French architects although the name of the author of the detailed initial plans who supervised work until 1281 has not been recorded. In 1287, a promissory note drawn up by the provost of Paris covers the expenses to be incurred by master builder Étienne de Bonneuil and his assistants in travelling to Sweden to work on the construction of a cathedral at Uppsala. Étienne is credited with work at the east and south chapels of the chancel, the transepts and probably the south portal, although in most of his work he appears to have meticulously followed the plans of his predecessor. Progress was slow as a result of the cold climate, the plague and many financial difficulties. It was not until the end of the 14th century that work on the initial plans was completed, thanks in particular to the contribution of the master builder Nikolaus från Västerås who began construction of the nave.

Uppsala Cathedral

When consecrated in 1435 by Archbishop Olaus Laurentii, the cathedral still was not complete. It was dedicated to Saint Lawrence, highly cherished in all of Sweden at that time; Saint Eric, the patron saint of Sweden (though never canonised by the Roman Catholic Church); and Saint Olaf, the patron saint of Norway. It was completed over the following decades. Although there are no documentary records of the consecration, there are several references from the same period to the cathedral's chapels, including their altars which were dedicated to the Holy Cross, to the Virgin Mary or to other saints. The last main component of the cathedral, the towers, were built between 1470 and 1489. The cathedral was damaged by fire on several occasions, especially during the great fire of 1702 which destroyed much of the city. Restoration work was not completed until the middle of the century.

The church was not the regular place of worship of laypeople until the Reformation. It was reserved for official services of the Catholic Church hierarchy (by the cathedral's canons). The parish churches in Uppsala were the Holy Trinity Church or Bondkyrkan, 'Peasant Church', as it was often called; Church of Saint Peter; Church of Our Lady; and a Franciscan friary. The last three had been built on the east side of the Fyris River, which was the central business district, and remains so to date. They were successively torn down during the Reformation. The Cathedral was also the coronation church for many of Sweden's kings and queens until 1719. It was the site of celebrating coronations from the Middle Ages until the end of the 17th century. Stockholm's Cathedral Storkyrkan became the official coronation church.

Uppsala Cathedral

From 1885 to 1893, the architect Helgo Zettervall (1831–1907) undertook comprehensive restoration work, seeking to give the cathedral a French High Gothic appearance although he has been criticized for not respecting the building's original Baltic Gothic style.[citation needed] He also added pointed French spires to the towers, bringing the cathedral up to a height of 118.7 m (389 ft), so making it as high as it was long. In an attempt to give the cathedral a slimmer appearance, Zettervall significantly altered large portions of the medieval outer brick walls and removed the decorative white-washed 'blind windows' on the gables which had been similar to those on the nearby Holy Trinity Church.

Further renovation work in the early 1970s led to improvements in the building's structure and included restoration of the walls and windows. Large portions of cement additions by Zettervall to the exterior structure of the cathedral were removed decades later as they adversely affected the building's fabric. In 1989, Pope John Paul II took part in an ecumenical service in Uppsala Cathedral with Archbishop Bertil Werkström. Fire protection equipment was installed in 2010 and the electrical and heating systems have been replaced.

Uppsala Cathedral