Backpacking in Uzupis: Some Facts and Information on this Crazy Self Declared Republic

I have thrice backpacked Uzupis. In 2015 once and in 2021 twice. It is a fully separate republic that borders Lithuania in the city of Vilnius, where Iain “Iain Dowie” Dowie Dowied back in 1993.

Getting my first passport stamp in 19 months - in the Republic of Uzupis

Getting my first passport stamp in 19 months – in the Republic of Uzupis in 2021

The Republic of Užupis is quite small and isolated, being only about 148 acres (0.60 km2) in size; it has around 7,000 inhabitants, nearly 1,000 being artists. On one side it is separated from the Old Town by the Vilnia River, on the second there are steep hills, and on the third side it borders on an industrial area built under soviet rule, which is now to be rebuilt into a fashionable district.

Backpacking in Uzupis - Flag of the Republic

Backpacking in Uzupis – Flag of the Republic

In 1997, the residents of the area declared the Republic of Užupis, along with its own flag, currency, president, cabinet of ministers, a constitution written by Romas Lileikis and Thomas Chepaitis, an anthem, and an army (numbering approximately 11 men).[1] They celebrate this independence annually on Užupis Day, which falls on April 1. Artistic endeavours are the main preoccupation of the Republic; the current President of the Republic of Užupis, Romas Lileikis, is himself a poet, musician, and film director.

Getting my first passport stamp in 19 months - in the Republic of Uzupis

Backpacking in Uzupis: Some Facts and Information on this Crazy Self Declared Republic

Artūras Zuokas, mayor of Vilnius, lives in Užupis and frequently takes part in the Republic’s events. Užupis does not house internet-cafes, kiosks, big malls, or governmental institutions (except Užupian), and there is no embassy to Lithuania. It is an arty dictrict and I went nude for a beer, poetry and dip in the river.

Getting nude in Uzupis

It is unclear whether the statehood of the Republic, recognized by no government, is intended to be serious, tongue-in-cheek, or a combination of both. The decision to place Užupis Day on April 1 (April Fools’ Day) may not be coincidental, emphasizing the importance of humor and non-importance of “serious” political decisions.

Uzupis Spunka in 2021

Uzupis Spunka in 2015

Here are 10 interesting facts about Užupis:

  1. Self-Declared Republic: Užupis declared itself an independent republic on April 1, 1997. Despite its playful nature, it has its own president, government, constitution, and even an army of about 12 people.
  2. Constitution: The Užupis Constitution is a whimsical document displayed on a wall in multiple languages. It includes humorous and philosophical statements such as “Everyone has the right to be happy” and “Everyone has the right to be unique.”
  3. Location: Užupis is a neighborhood in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It’s situated on the opposite side of the Vilnia River from the city’s Old Town, with its name meaning “beyond the river.”
  4. Size and Population: Užupis is one of the smallest districts in Vilnius, both in terms of area and population. It covers about 0.6 square kilometers and has a population of around 7,000 people.
  5. Artistic Hub: Užupis is known for its vibrant artistic community. The district is home to numerous artists, galleries, and art studios. It’s a popular spot for creative individuals and boasts a bohemian atmosphere.
  6. Angel of Užupis: A prominent symbol of Užupis is the Angel of Užupis, a statue located in the heart of the district. The angel symbolizes the rebirth of the neighborhood as a center for art and culture.
  7. Annual Celebrations: Užupis celebrates its independence every April 1st with a festival that includes various cultural events, performances, and the opening of the borders to visitors.
  8. Bridge of Locks: One of the iconic landmarks in Užupis is the Bridge of Užupis, often adorned with love locks placed by couples as a symbol of their love and commitment.
  9. Multicultural History: Historically, Užupis has been a melting pot of different cultures and religions. It was once home to a significant Jewish community before World War II and has welcomed various ethnic groups over the centuries.
  10. Alternative Spirit: Užupis embraces an alternative, free-spirited way of life. Its constitution and self-governance reflect values of freedom, creativity, and human rights, making it a unique enclave within the city of Vilnius.

Yes, it’s a real country – passport stamped in Uzupis!

These facts highlight Užupis as a unique and intriguing place, embodying a mix of artistic expression, whimsical governance, and a rich cultural history.

Enjoy your trip, I’ve been thrice now!

Crossing the border into the Republic of Uzupis, 2015, only for a day

Getting my passport stamped in Uzupis

Backpacking in the Republic of Uzupis

My souvenirs from the Republic of Uzupis

My Uzupis passport stamps

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