The University Main Building was built in the 1880s. 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 May 17, 1887 the building was inaugurated at a festive ceremony. The architect was Herman Teodor Holmgren.
What he created was a grand and stately structure in a sort of Romanesque Renaissance style. The strange thing is that, despite much modernizing 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: “It is a great thing to think freely, but it is greater still to think correctly.”
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. On the upper level there is the so-called Chancellor’s Room, where the University’s rector 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. 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 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.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.