Less than an hour’s drive north of Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, on the E4 lies Uppsala, Sweden’s ancient capital, seat of one of Europe’s greatest universities. This is the birthplace of Ingmar Bergman and the setting for his film Fanny and Alexander.
The town also has the largest Gothic cathedral to be found in Scandinavia, Domkyrkan. Its vaults, from 1435, house the shrine of Saint Erik, a former king and the patron-saint of Sweden.
Sweden’s Ancient Capital
Across the town’s lush parks rises Uppsala Castle, a fortress from the days of the Vasa dynasty, now a small gallery.
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A few minutes north of the town lies Old Uppsala, a 5th-century bastion of the Yngling dynasty. The three huge grave mounds of kings Aun, Egil and Adils (described Beowulf) dominate the grave fields beyond the Gamla Uppsala Museum, which does a good job of explaining the Viking world.
Sweden’s oldest town
Near Uppsala, where the sea meets the forest, you’ll find Sigtuna, Sweden’s oldest town. In the 11th century this was the commercial center for the Svea and Vandal tribes. Merchant ships from as far away as Asia dropped anchor here; monasteries and abbeys competed with one another in building glorious churches.
Today Sigtuna is a picturesque town with crooked lanes, quaint wooden houses and a miniature town hall. Tante Brun’s café in the main pedestrian lane is a lovely place to stop for a strong Swedish coffee and a freshly baked cinnamon bun.
Sweden’s Ancient Capital, written by Tor Kjolberg