Uppsala is home to one of Europe's oldest universities, established in 1477. It is also a historic site where pagan (and extremely gory) Viking ceremonies persisted into the 11th century. As late as the 16th century, nationwide tings (early parliaments) were convened here. Today it is a quiet home for about 170,000 people. Built along the banks of the Fyris River, the town has a pleasant jumble of old buildings that is dominated by its cathedral, which dates from the early 13th century.
In recent years Uppsala has shaken off the shadow of nearby Stockholm and is emerging as a destination in its own right. The town has established itself as something of a center for medical research and pharmaceuticals. Add to the mix the student population, and Uppsala has become a thriving place, with housing and office developments springing up in equal numbers to restaurants, bars, cultural venues, and shops.