An independent republic in the middle of a city? With its own president, constitution and Independence Day?! Welcome to Užupis, a district of Vilnius Old Town – beloved home for many artists, celebrities, politicians and even religious prophets! Užupis is often compared to Montmartre in Paris, with its citizens, their lifestyle and beliefs all contributing to the cosy neighbourhood feel of Vilnius, the UNESCO-listed capital of Lithuania.
For 13 years in the row, the citizens of Užupis have declared their district the Independent Republic of Užupis. This picture was taken this year (2010) on April 1st – April Fools’ Day – the official unofficial Independence Day of the Republic of Užupis. Every year the citizens of Užupis organise a celebration for themselves and invite everybody to party together. You can be a student, an ambassador of a foreign country, a farmer or a business man. Whether you’re single or with the family, everybody’s welcome to join the feast.
In Užupis, numerous art and socially responsible activities take place all year round, including various shows, the release of live fish to the Vilnelė River, white table cloth day when families bring food left over from the Easter feast and share it with others, or voluntarily cleaning up the neighbourhood. All activities culminate in one huge celebration on April 1st.
With its original constitution, Užupis declares no boundaries for personal – or even animal – self-expression, nor for rights and responsibilities. For example, article no. 36 states that Everyone has the right to be personal, while article no. 12 declares that A dog has the right to be a dog.
A new tradition for newlyweds has also evolved over recent years – walking across any bridge to Užupis and putting a padlock on its railings – a symbol of strong commitment and locked-in happiness.
Whatever time of year you visit Lithuania and Vilnius, do not miss the chance to take a tour of the Republic of Užupis and lock your heart on Užupis, stroll through peaceful streets of our beloved Vilnius, pop into yards, visit many spectacular churches or simply relax in oustanding cafés.
Užupis just one of hundreds of unforgettable places in Lithuania, with sights such as the park in the geographical centre of Europe, the Curonian Spit, the Hill of Crosses and Rumšiškės Open Air museum of Lithuanian history all waiting to be explored with our friendly local assistance.