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Uppsala Slottet (The Castle)

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The castle
Photo: Uppsala's castle.

Built on a ridge overlooking the city, the large pastel-pink Uppsala Castle is easily seen when you approach Uppsala.  As well as going into details about the castle, it would be helpful to include the people who helped to define its history. It was King Gustav Vasa, who ordered the castle to be built in 1549.

Gustav Vasa is acknowledged as the first native Swedish king who formed a sovereign state, although at that time the country was really divided between different kingdoms and rulers. After years of war with Denmark, a triumphant Gustav Vasa was elected king on June 6th, 1523, now the Swedish national day. It was five years later before he was officially crowned in Uppsala Cathedral.

The king’s reign was not without strife and he fought off a number of rebellions in different areas of Sweden. The ruling powers had historically been very closely affiliated with the Catholic Church. However, the new king expelled the archbishop who he believed was allied with the Danes and appointed his own against the wishes of the pope. Under King Gustav Vasa’s reign, the Lutheran religion gained popularity and the pope eventually lost all influence over the church in Sweden.

The king was married three times during his life and is buried in Uppsala Cathedral with two of his wives. His first marriage produced one son, Erik XIV and after her death Vasa remarried and had 10 children with his second wife. The oldest son from that marriage was Johan III and the youngest son was Karl IX. The descendants of Vasa played key roles in the historical events at Uppsala's Castle.

canons

Photo: Canons just happened to be pointed towards the cathedral.

Standing on the castle grounds today will provide you with a fantastic view of the city. That view was part of the strategy behind the placement of the citadel, which was intended by Vasa, at least partly, as a fortress to defend against enemies. It is ironically noteworthy that the canons lined up in front of the castle seem to be pointed directly at the Cathedral, suggestive of the historical power struggle between the church and the state.

Over time, Vasa’s sons expanded and reshaped the fortress into a renaissance style palace. The state hall within the castle was used as a site for meetings and royal festivities after the coronation ceremony in the Cathedral.