In the colorful gardens outside the University Main Building, you can’t miss the statue of Erik Gustaf Geijer. A poet, professor, historian, he was so popular with the 19th century students that they insisted that a statue be raised in his honor. At his feet, there is a woman playing a lyre called Geijer’s Thoughts, who was modeled on his daughter Agnes.
The building was inaugurated in 1887 and the students were delighted. Finally they could enjoy the modern luxury of heated classrooms. Inside you will find lavish, imposing rooms adorned with the portraits of Swedish kings and permeated with a strong sense of tradition and academic excellence.
Most splendid of all is the Grand Auditorium, the Aula Magna. Over the entrance is a quote by Thorild: “It is a great thing to think freely, but greater still to think correctly.” Professors are inaugurated here and many academic ceremonies are carried out, not to mention concerts, lectures and other events. Some traditions are far older than the building: the doctor’s hat ceremony dates right back to 1600.
It is in this building that the Chancellor receives important guests from all over the world, many of whom take the chance to talk to the students. When Kofi Annan gave a seminar here, the Aula Magna was so packed that screens were erected so that everyone who was crowded outside could hear what he had to say. Technology and learning: it’s a very typically Uppsala University combination. An ancient ivory tower with excellent wifi!
(The University Main Building is closed until autumn 2017.)