A dog has the right to be a dog and free beer flows from a fountain. Buckle up kids, this is going to be a wild and fun ride!

Welcome to the Independent Republic of Uzupis. Formalities first, is it Uzupis or Uzupio like the sign reads? I believe it is just the difference in Lithuanian Vs English spelling. I’m going to stick with Uzupis for this one. Oh, and what does Uzupis mean? It translates to “beyond the river”, as the Republic is located just over the River Vilnele, which makes sense to me.
Second formality. As you read the info in the following pictures, you are almost certainly going to ask… is this place for real, are you making this up? So here is a picture of my actual Canadian passport, complete with a stamp from Uzupis border control. Enough formalities, let’s visit the Independent Republic of Uzupis!
Might as well start here, the bridge that crosses the river Vilnele into Uzupis. It is said that whomever sits on this seat automatically becomes the King or Queen of Uzupis. The sign on the bridge is the flag for the Republic. It is called the “Holy Hand” and is not able to accept bribes due to the hole in the middle of the hand. The bar seen in the left side of the picture is the exact location where Uzupis was founded on April 1, 1997. Uzupis celebrates their independence day on April fools day, coincidence? lets look further.
Uzupis is one of the smallest Republics in the world as it covers only 1 square kilometer. It has it’s own small navy of 3 boats and had an army of 11 soldiers, but they all retired as they prefer peace. The main stated preoccupation of the Republic is “artistic endeavors”. This mermaid statue was created by Romas Vilciauskas and is said to attract people from around the world with magical spells. The legend is if you look into her eyes, that you will remain in Uzupis forever. I didn’t try looking, my next flight was non-refundable.
Backpacking Jesus on the other hand doesn’t claim to place any spells on people. Uzupis has a president, ministers and national ambassadors. There are more than 500 ambassadors and you can become one as well. It just has to be a unique position that doesn’t already exist. If you are thinking you can become the ambassador of Uzupis for whistling in the streets, I’m sorry but that one is already taken (seriously). Dibs on Ambassador of traditional summit selfies!
Uzupis Independence Square. On independence day (April fools day), they celebrate by having free beer flowing from a fountain in this square. Uzupis also has it’s own currency, but it can only be used on independence day, and it can only be used to buy beer, which was already flowing for free from the fountain. The angel on the pedestal is said to watch over Uzupis. The angel hatched from an egg that was previously positioned on top of the pedestal until the Republic had enough money to buy the angel statue.
The Republic is centered around the Vilnius Academy of Arts, pictured here. This academy attracts artists and free thinkers from around the world, which the mermaid takes credit for.
This Republic was originally a Jewish neighborhood. After the Soviets took over and the holocaust occurred, the neighborhood became empty, neglected and extremely dangerous. So much so, the main road pictured here, was nicknamed “the street of death”. This resulted in very affordable rent which attracted artists to the area who started to add color to the buildings and cleaned up the neighborhood.
The streets of Uzupis are now extremely safe and even have these cool swings instead of public benches. It is also now very expensive to live in Uzupis compared to years before independence.
Like any good Republic should, Uzupis has it’s own constitution. It is placed right in the streets for the people. It is printed in 40 different languages and for only $2000 Euros, they will add another plaque with any language you would like. The most recent addition was the constitution printed in Latin. The Pope then came to Uzupis and blessed it. For the remainder of these pictures, I will just share some of the local street art and place quotes from the Uzupis constitution under each picture.
A dog has the right to be a dog.
Sometimes everyone has the right to be unaware of their duties.
Everyone is responsible for their freedom.
Everyone has the right to look after the dog until one of them dies. Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation.
Everyone has the right to be of any nationality.
Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat. A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need.
Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, and the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by everyone.
Everyone has the right to not to be afraid. – Side note, the plaque below this fabulous cat bending the fence posts reads that if you scratch the cats ears, you will then live your life without fear.
The constitution ends with: Do not defeat. Do not fight back. Do not surrender.
Distracted by the wild adventure that is Uzupis I almost forgot. Traditional independent Republic summit selfie – soon to be ambassador.

1 Comment

Teditor · December 29, 2023 at 8:11 pm

Who would have thought! Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

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