Uppsala to Gamla Uppsala
The first stage of the Maria trail (Marialeden) is identical to the S:t Eric’s Trail (Eriksleden) which starts in central Uppsala, Sweden by the massive gothic cathedral and ends at the 12th century church in Old Uppsala some six kilometres away. The trail is very well marked and is easy to follow from start to finish. The S:t Eric’s Trail is based on a late medieval tradition of walking with the reliquary containing his remains from the cathedral out to Old Uppsala to bless the harvest. The reliquary can still be seen in the cathedral.
At first the trail meanders through the city, following the river Fyris for about a kilometre before turning towards the first stop, the Tunåsen church. This is a pretty modern building, probable from the 70s or 80s, but be sure to get a stamp in your trail passport if it’s open!
After that the trail quickly leads into the open fields north of the city, and you’ll be greeted by views of the iconic mounds of Old Uppsala.
The stamp for your pilgrim passport is inside the church, just to the left when you walk into the porch.
The landscape might be flat in this part of Sweden, but there is a rugged beauty to the fields and the mounds are spectacular. As for wildlife you can only expect to see birds of various kinds. The area is teeming with different kinds of birds of prey, and during the spring there are warblers in every bush! The cathedral, the mounds and the Old Uppsala church make for some unique places of history that are very worthwhile. Also, the Old Uppsala Museum is a true gem with iron age relics, information about the burial mounds and other artifacts.
When you arrive at the church in Old Uppsala, be sure you don’t miss the Odinsborg, a faux viking inspired wooden building drawing heavily on 19th century romanticisms of what the viking age was like. They serve some lovely Swedish fika and ice cream!