So across the Vilnia river from Vilnius’ old town is a neighbourhood called Uzupio, which really deserves its own post.
Uzupio is the bohemian/artistic neighbourhood of Vilnius which unilaterally declared itself as an ‘independent republic’ a couple of years ago. It has a president, ministers, a flag, the works. Lots of artists, painters, students live in Uzupio (including the tank-wielding ex-mayor of Vilnius that featured in the previous post).
So basically you cross the river from old town and are greeted by the entrance of Uzupio. The rules are: you gotta smile, drive slow, respect the art, and try not to drive into the river. Already you can see that these are great principles to live by.
You really can’t help but keep smiling/laughing when walking around Uzupio, mainly because it feels like the place is sharing an elaborate inside joke with you.
Here are some reasons why Uzupio is fabulous:
- Backpacker Jesus: Yup, no kidding.
- Initially had an army of 12 people which was eventually disbanded when Uzupio decided it would be a peaceful nation. Uzupio now relies on its angel to watch over it.
- Has the tiniest “port” in the world. Apparently one can sail from here to NYC (presumably in a kayak).
- Constitution – written by the president and his buddy when they were drinking in a bar. With gems such as: “Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation.”, “A dog has the right to be a dog.”, “A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need.”, “Everyone shall remember their name.”, “Everyone has the right to idle.” This constitution probably makes more sense than some real-life constitutions.
- Uzupio’s independence day is April fool’s day. Last year’s celebrations involved the fountain in the town square spewing free beer. It was a such a roaring success that it might become a staple for future celebrations so visit around April fool’s day if you can!
- All the art. Everywhere. Beautiful and usually hilarious.
- Uzupio has ambassadors all around the world. Apparently if you claim an expertise on a specific topic, Uzupio will make you their ambassador of that thing. So there are ambassadors of bookbinding, babysitting, pencils, rock music, as well as an ambassador to the wolves, and one to Shrek’s swamp.
- Citizenship – you’re considered one if you share Uzupio’s values so they actually don’t know their citizenry size. But about 7000 people live in Uzupio.