Unique Republic Of Užupis: On The Top Of Your Bucket List
January 1, 1970
Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
Everyone has the right to be unique.
Everyone has the right to love.
When you look at this words, it seems like you are looking at the creative quotes, unique code, rules… or amazing Constitution that makes you smile and feel the free artistic spirit. Where can you find it? Of course in the heart of Europe – in Vilnius. This 41 articles of Constitution of autonomous Republic of Užupis will bring you to another time and space, where fascinating happenings occur and time has no limits.
Užupis is one the most fascinating and beautiful districts in Vilnius. If you come to Vilnius for a few days, it has to be on your bouquet list at the top. This 0,6 ha of baroque style and artistic sculptures’ section it’s near the Old Town – just across the River Vilnelė.
Užupis was mentioned for the first time in the 16th century when the fortified wall was built in Vilnius. In the past, it was a place, the suburb, where poor people used to live. In addition to this, some sources claim it was even the brothel district. And today?
The situation has changed completely – expensive or better to say unaffordable accommodation, fashion shows, and impressive masterpieces. You can hardly say it was a place of small craftsmen or the most insecure place in Soviet times.In the 20th century in the Užupio Republic were established workshops by Vilnius Academy of Art. Nowadays it is a magical place of art, culture, creativity and free-spirited artists, who transformed Užupis into Lithuanian Montmartre. 2 churches, 7 bridges and the Bernardine Cemetery (on the list of Europe’s most valuable cemeteries) with its own authentic value of graves and past – that makes the first impression unforgettable not only on tourists.
Don’t miss this:
- On the Užupio 7/1 street, there is a Honestich palace built in 1786 in classical style. Also, in 19th century there was a pub, and a roadhouse
- Find streets Užupio and Pollock and go forward looking for adventures and chatt with the social Užupio Republic citizens
- Bernardinu, Paplaju and Uzupio Bridges are must see and walk. Don’t forget to look under the bridge, maybe you’ll catch someone’s eye?
One of the Hippest Neighbourhoods in Europe
Every time I walk down the river I know I am in another reality, where every sign, sculpture, the note has a profound value and meaning. To me, it was always one of the hippest places, and here is why.
Top 10 Reasons Why Užupis is the Hippest:
- Užupis is located in Vilnius’ old town, that is on a UNESCO World Heritage site list
- Interesting past, facts, buildings and history (Jewish population were killed during the Holocaust)
- It is a self-proclaimed republic
- Užupis celebrates its Independence Day on April 1 – Užupis Day
- It has its own president (2014 Jaap van Ark)
- Užupis Republic has a small army (12 men), bishop and four flags
- Unique Constitution
- Užupis Angel that,,hatched out”
- Sign of Užupis: Open palm – tolerance of Užupis to world and people
- Užupis Gallery
However, not only I claim about Užupis artistic value. Baltic Review on 11 March 2017 published an article, that Vilnius Užupis is one of the hippest in Europe. The Artistic Užupis district in Vilnius is 11th on the list.
Bohemian Rhapsody – happening, unicorn and angel
The Republic of Užupis is unique for its independence and autonomy. In 1997 on April 1st (All Fools’ Days) this district proclaimed its Independence. Today, this republic has its own president, currency, army, and constitution, that you can find on the right wall on the Paupio street. Translated into 23 languages with 3 mottos “Don’t Fight”, “Don’t Win”, “Don’t Surrender”. Maybe you’ll find in your language?
Užupis district has been through several transformations. In this place used to live Jewish people, then weavers, merchants, craftsmen, and even famous poets, for ex. Polish poet K.I.Gałczyński, opera singer, and actor B. Ładysz. After 1991 more and more galleries, art exhibitions and happenings took place here, in the unique Republic of Užupis.
Užupis means,, the other side of the river”. When you step on the border of Užupis you have to follow signs. Next to the Užupio Bridge, the border, there is a sign ”UŽUPIO RES PUBLICA” that means you have to smile, don’t drive faster than 20 km/h, be aware of bridges and follow your artistic passion!
On the 5 m wide and 20 m long Užupio bridge you will see more than 100 of love locks that show the eternal commitment of lovers – the keys are thrown into the river to strengthen the love. Near the bridge on your left, you can see a famous cafe,, Užupio kavinė”. A few steps down and voilà – you are under the bridge and being observed by the Užupis Mermaid! When the weather is good or it’s summer you can swing on the see – saw!
Authentic mermaid, paintings on the walls above the river and… Unicorn Zebra sculpture! When you go straight and turn right, one step and you can full access to rock on the zebra/unicorn – zebracorn, near the Užupis Art Incubator. It is a great attraction for both kids and adults. But if you are interested in Art and ant to see exhibition – visit Užupis Art Incubator, it’s really worth visiting!
While you walk on Užupio street or near the Art Incubator, be curious and take a look 360 degree – almost everywhere you can spot a piece of art: painting on the wall, quote, sculpture, authentic hydrant and best known symbol of Užupis, The Užupis Angel (authors R. Vilčiauskas and A. Umbrasas). In 2001 this Angel blowing a trumpet landed on a column in the main square. This angel was the idea to make the memory of caturarist and animator Zenonas Šteinys stay alive. Today this Angel Gabriel is the most recognized symbol of Užupis. Before this 3,5 m angel at the same place was a big egg, that became the reason of many anecdotes. Now the local guides tell tourist the story about Angel that ”hatched out” of an egg. Want to find this egg in Vilnius? Look for directions to Pylimo street.
Talk with locals and feel the spirit at ,, Šnekutis”
The area of Užupis is unique not only for art but Lithuanian spirit. If you’re looking for real Lithuanian cuisine and beer go to Polocko 7 a., straight forward starting at the Angel. On your right you’ll see,, Šnekutis” that offers delicious Lithuanian dishes for reasonable prices.