When I first saw the name of the Republic Uzupis, I thought that it was some self-styled, usurpatory authority and partly I was right, but the word Uzupis, in this case, means ”on the other side of the river” because it lays on the other bank of river Vilnia. It used to be the poorest working district, in medieval times there were various craftsmen in it, lower officials, then, with the development of industry, it slowly fell into disrepair. It became almost a slum, with lots of shabby or ruined houses. In Soviet times, nutty, passionate artists, without two pennies to rub together, began to settle here, slowly changing the look of the district. In 1997, they went further and bravely self-proclaimed the district over the Vilnia Republic. Just in case, however, they did this on the 1st of April when all jokes are allowed ( April’s fool day). Blue hand became the symbol of the new state, and now it is fluttering on the banners and flags of Uzupis. The New Republic required a brand new constitution, which was like fresh breeze after the collapse of communist regime. Nicely written is now presented on mirrored tablets, on the walls on the street Paupio, translated into few languages.
To satisfy your curiosity I will quote several points of the Constitution:
A man has the right to live on Vilnius
A man has the right to do nothing
The dog has the right to be a dog
Everyone has the right to celebrate their birthday, theirs or someone else’s, etc.
Even if the points of this constitution seems to look like a joke, between the lines you can find people’s longing for freedom, which for so long was denied in Lithuania. Currently, Uzupis has the constitution, flag and emblem, even a president, currency, newspaper and pseudo-army.
We enjoyed walking around the picturesque, almost romantic streets. The iron bridge over Vilnia is a “border” of the Republic and it is covered with love padlocks like in Paris because for Lithuanian people Uzupis is a Lithuanian Montmartre, everywhere you look is something artistic; murals, architectural details etc
Looking down from the bridge, you can see another attraction of this place: an enchanted statue of mermaid made by Roman Vilciauskas. It fascinates crowds from around the world with her magical beauty.
Apart from this stone piece, Uzupis has few others. One of them is Republic’s own spiritual guardian sitting on the top of the high column, and looking after the citizens.
I must admit, this fake state charmed me, it is very intriguing and attractive. No one can’t deny that people who live there have a sense of humour. Only estate agencies are dead serious, and prices here for small flats are enormous.