“The sink is full of fishes, she got dirty dishes on the brain” – Noel Gallagher.
I’ve been to some off the wall / off the wheaten craic destinations on my travels. Countries that are unknown to many such as Nagorno Karabakh, Transnistria, Kosovo , Romkerhall, Austenasia, Druze, Adammia, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Christiania and East Timor. Islands you’ve never heard of – Bruny Island, Cuverville Island, Sark and Atauro Island. However my recent adventure was to the Republic of Užupis?! “Where is that?”, you will ask me when I tell the tale down the pub! The Republic of Užupis is Zarzecze in Polish.
Where is The Republic of Užupis?
It borders Lithuania. The Republic of Uzupis is inside Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania is a mini self claimed republic in a neighbourhood by the name of Uzupis! The red line shows where it is in the map below.
You simply cross the border into the Republic of Uzupis by bridge.
Uzupis has its own president, its own flag, anthem and even a 41 point Uzupis Republic Constitution! You can also spend the Uzupis currency Uzas on April Fool’s Day – the country’s national day! It’s no joke!
While staying at the Litinterp Guest House in the Old Town, I made Uzupis a priority. So I got my passport ready, my camera fully charged as I headed across the border into the Republic of Uzupis while remaining inside the same city, Vilnius!
1. Uzupis Gatve/Uzupis Street
Uzupis Gatve is the main street which runs through the country, it starts off where the bridge and Republic of Uzupis sign sits and runs right up the hill and further afield. It’s a good street to get your bearings and a few of the main sights are also on this main street.
Uzupis Gatve/Uzupis Street is also where the main bus service through the country runs, connecting back into Vilnius, Lithuania.
2. Uzupis Constitution Wall
This for me is quite a quirky and fun thing. As Uzupis is a separate Republic, they have their own constitution. Even better, they put it on a wall in the neighbourhood, written in 16 languages. The full points on the constitution of Uzupis are here. It is situated on Paupio Gatve in Uzupis.
3. Uzupis Flag
I loved the way the Uzupis flag has a hand on it similar to the Northern Ireland flag. On Uzups Gatve there is a flag pole with the flag on it.
4. Uzupis Angel
The Uzupis Angel is the defining statue and monument for the nation. It sits obvious and proud on Uzupis Gatve at the bottom of a hill.
It was a gradual construction of this Angel. On April 1, 2002, this statue of the archangel Gabriel blowing a trumpet was unveiled to symbolize revival and artistic freedom. The sculptor was Romas Vilciauskas. Prior to this an egg was on top of the pillar, which later sold for auction and now stands on Pylimo Street.
5. Pottery Workshop and Factory
The Republic of Uzupis is an arty place. There are a few art workshops and crafts centres to visit. You may need to ask in advance if you want to arrange a visit. Luckily I was able to get a tour of the pottery workshop on Paupio Gatve (opposite the Uzupis constitution wall).
The director of Uzupis Potters Guild is a man called Dainius Strazdas and he showed me around and I was able to watch the ceramics being made right there as well as posing for photos. You can also buy pottery here to take away. Everyone in here was so so friendly. Super Lithuanians/Uzupians!
Here are the details of the Pottery Workshop:
Vilnius Potters Guild, Uzupis, Paupio Strade 2-20. Phone: +370 6 599 9040
Email: [email protected]
6. Keistoteka Bookshop
Right next door to the Pottery Workshop is a cool little bookshop. Here you can buy a load of books as well as some souvenirs. The lady who owned the shop was called Gintare and we had a chat.
7. Uzupis Art Gallery
Down by the river and between the main entry bridge and Tibet Square, you’ll find lots of outdoor art and statues including a massive erect willy. There’s a free art gallery here and you should go in.
Uzupis is a funky neighbourhood of artists and the paintings and art is fantastic as is the grafitti on the walls nearby.
8. Tibet Square
It was funny seeing a Tibet Flag and a Tibet Square here. There is a slight connection with countries like Uzupis and Christiania to Tibet as the situation is similar. They are inside one country officially but they see themselves as different and separate. Many moons ago, I visited Ganden Sumptseling Gompa, a Tibetan Monastery in China.
9. Spunka Pub
I learned about a cool funky bar in the Republic of Uzupis called Spunka. I had been looking for a local beer brewed in Uzupis you see and was told this was the spot to find it. It opens at 3pm and I was one of the first customers.
On speaking to Paulius the owner I learned that the beer is only available in summer time, so alas I had to make do with a Lithuanian beer.
10. St. Bartholomew Church
Even a small self declared Republic like Uzupis has a cool church to check out – St. Bartholomew Church. It’s on the right down an alley off Uzupio Gatve.
11. Souvenir Shop, Post office and Passport Stamp
So there is kind of unofficial immigration office, post office and souvenir shop all in one and it’s down the first pedestrian street on the left once you’ve entered the Republic of Uzupis the way I did (from Old Town Vilnius).
This souvenir shop contains loads of cool stuff that you simply cannot get anywhere else including Uzupis postcards, T-shirts, Fridge Magnets etc.
Even cooler is that this is the place you get your passport stamped with an Uzupis stamp. Amazing place to add to your collection of random stamps.
I also went a bit wild on souvenirs as this is such a rare wacky republic to be in. In fact, I could have bought more!
12. Vilnia River and Uzupis Republic Signs
Most people visit Uzupis on a day trip, so after looking around you simply cross back across the bridge into Vilnius, Lithuania. The Vilnia river is an arty area and is worth checking out, plus there is not only the entering Uzupis sign, but an exiting Uzupis sign too.
Here are some og my other articles on my other disputed countries and regions visits from my travels, all of which are countries in my book:
– Andaman Islands
– Gorno Badakhshan
– Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
– Don’t Stop Living
– Krolestwo Dreamlandu
– The Vatican City
– Northern Ireland
– French Guyana
– Hong Kong
– Nagorno Karabakh
– Lagoan Isles
– People’s Republic of Podjistan
– San Marino
– Druze People
Here are some of my videos from backpacking in Uzupis: