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.

Visiting address

Biskopsgatan 3, 753 10 Uppsala
Map (Google Maps)In-door map (MazeMap)

Gift shop closed from 1 March.

Barrier-free entrance located at Övre Slottsgatan 7D. The building is accessible for wheelchair users with lifts to all floors and wheelchair spaces in lecture halls and the Grand Auditorium.

Seating plan of the Grand Auditorium

Contact details (further down this page)

Short history

Universitetshuset

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.

Old photo of the University Building. There is no park outside..
The University Main Building in 1887.
Old photo of a celebration outside the University Main Building. The University Park is now in place.
The University Main Building, probably in year 1890.

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.”

Several rows of long tables set in the University Grand Auditorium
The Grand Auditorium, year 1901.

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.

Old photo of the boards old meeting room. A long table and chairs in the middle, two chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, portraits of regents on the walls
The board's old meeting room, the early 1900s.

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.

Group photo of honorary doctorate recepients holding their diplomas and the Vice-Chancellor wearing the Vice-Chancellor's chain in the Chancellor's room
Recipients of honorary doctorates in 2018, with Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson in the Chancellor's Room. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt
Old photo of the Chancellor's Room. A chandelier hanging from the ceiling, a showcase stand on the floor.
The Chancellor's Room, 1900s

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.

The Grand Auditorium, crowded with audience and participants of the inauguration of new professors
Inauguration of professors in the Grand Auditorium, year 2013.