The Linnaeus Garden – a haven in Uppsala

Illustration of the botanical garden, today known as The Linnaeus Garden, designed by the architect Carl Hårleman 1745.

The Linnaeus Garden was the first botanical garden in Sweden founded in 1655 by Olof Rudbeck the elder. It is laid out in the French Style and restored following Linnaeus' and Carl Hårleman's design from 1745. Today approximately 1 000 species are grown here. All known to have been cultivated by Linnaeus and arranged according to his own system.

Sweden's oldest botanic garden

Hortus Upsaliensis according to the design of Olof Rudbeck the elder, as published in Atlantica 1675.
Hortus Upsaliensis according to the design
of Olof Rudbeck the elder, as published
in Atlantica 1675. 

The Botanical Garden of Uppsala University is the oldest in Sweden. It was founded in 1655 by the polymath Olof Rudbeck the elder, Professor of Medicine. At that time the garden was located in central Uppsala, in the Svartbäcken district near the Fyrisån river (figure). In the garden the medical students could learn botany and study medicinal plants. By the end of the 17th century there were more than 1800 plant species in the garden, many grown for the first time in Sweden – for example the potato.

Olof Rudbeck’s botanic garden was badly damaged during the great Uppsala fire of 1702. As the university lacked resources to restore it, the garden entered a period of decline.

In 1741 Carl Linnaeus was appointed as Director of the, by then, dilapidated botanic garden. He transformed it into one of the foremost gardens in the world. Through his world-wide network of contacts he was able to bring in thousands of plant species. They were grown in a particular order determined by Linnaeus, according to his Sexual System or in ecological plantings. Today, Linnaeus’s botanic garden has been reconstructed according to his original plan from 1745. It is now called the Linnaeus Garden and is a living memorial to the great naturalist.