Uppsala is the capital of Uppsala County and the fourth largest city of Sweden, after Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. It had 149,245 inhabitants in 2015. Located 71 km (44 mi) north of the capital Stockholm, it is also the seat of Uppsala Municipality. Since 1164, Uppsala has been the ecclesiastical centre of Sweden, being the seat of the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden. Uppsala is home to Scandinavia's largest cathedral – Uppsala Cathedral. Founded in 1477, Uppsala University is the oldest centre of higher education in Scandinavia. Among many achievements, the Celsius scale for temperature was invented there.
Situated on the fertile Uppsala flatlands of muddy soil, the city features the small Fyris River (Fyrisån) flowing through the landscape surrounded by lush vegetation. Parallel to the river runs the glacial ridge of Uppsalaåsen at an elevation of circa 30 metres (98 feet), the site of Uppsala's castle, from which large parts of the town can be seen. The central park Stadsskogen (literally "The Town Forest") stretches from the south far into town, with opportunities for recreation for many residential areas within walking distance.
Only some 70 kilometres (43 miles) or 40 minutes by train from the capital, many Uppsala residents work in Stockholm. The train to Stockholm-Arlanda Airport takes only 17 minutes, rendering the city easily accessible by air.
The commercial centre of Uppsala is quite compact. The city has a distinct town and gown divide with clergy, royalty and academia historically residing on the river's western shore, somewhat separated from the rest of the city, and the ensemble of cathedral, castle and university buildings has remained mostly undisturbed until today. While some beautiful buildings remain on the periphery of the central core, retail commercial activity is geographically focused on a small number of blocks around the pedestrianized streets and main square on the eastern side of the river, an area that was subject to a large-scale metamorphosis during the economically booming years in the 1960s in particular. During recent decades, a significant part of retail commercial activity has shifted to shopping malls and stores situated in the outskirts of the city. Meanwhile, the built-up areas have expanded greatly, and some suburbanization has taken place.
The Fyris river (Fyrisån) neatly divides the city into two different parts: the historic quarter to the west of the river and the modern administrative, residential and commercial city centre to the east. Most of the historical sights and university buildings are in the western part, with a medieval street layout, river views and parks and dominated by the cathedral.
The most outstanding building in Uppsala is the Domkyrka (Uppsala Cathedral), Scandinavia's largest church building (118.70 m (389.44 ft) high). Together with Uppsala Castle it has dominated Uppsala's skyline since its construction in the 13th century and can be seen from a long distance outside the city, other tall buildings being rare.
Facing the west end of the cathedral is the Gustavianum, built in 1625 to be the main building of the University, and served as such through most of the 19th century. It contains the Museum of Nordic Antiquities, the Victoria Museum (of Egyptian antiquities) and the University's cultural history collections. It also houses a perfectly preserved 17th-century anatomical theatre (used in its time for public dissections). Next to Gustavianum is the 18th century Archbishop's Palace, the official residence of the Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala and the primate of the Church of Sweden.
Across the street from the Gustavianum in the University Park stands the University Hall, erected in 1879–86 in Italian renaissance style. The Uppsala University Coin Cabinet is located in the university main building.
Not far from the University stands the Uppsala University Library (Carolina Rediviva), the largest library in Sweden, with over 5 million volumes and some 60,000 manuscripts. The building was built in 1820–41.
On a circa 35-metre high hill to the southwest of the University Library stands Uppsala Castle. Its construction was initiated in 1549 by King Gustav Vasa, founder of the Vasa royal dynasty. Today the castle holds several museums, among them the regional art museum, and is the residence of the Uppsala County Governor.
There are several botanical museums in Uppsala related to the world-famous 18th century botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus; the Botanic Garden next to the castle, the Linnaean Garden in the city centre, and Linnaeus Hammarby, Linnaeus' summer house in the countryside village of Danmarks Hammarby south of the city.
5 kilometres (3 miles) north of Uppsala city lies Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), the location of the pre-Christian settlement of Uppsala which later provided the new name for the medieval settlement further south. There are few remains, with the exception of several huge burial mounds of pre-Christian monarchs and the previous cathedral from 1164 A.D., traditionally said to be built over the old heathen temple (and recent archaeological investigations seems to support this notion). The site was a major religious centre in Scandinavia in pre-Christian times. After the old cathedral church burned down around 1240 it was only partially restored to a more modest size as it no longer was the seat of the Archbishop. The Gamla Uppsala Museum exhibits archeological finds made during excavations in Gamla Uppsala and related finds from other parts of Uppland, as well as exhibitions on the history of the site itself.