In most of the cities there are only districts or neighborhoods that have bohemian feel – Kreuzberg in Berlin, Kallio in Helsinki, Plateau in Montreal or Kazimierz in Kraków. But Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, went one step further. Right in the center of the city, few minutes away from the beautiful St.Anne’s church and across the Vilnia River, the Republic of Uzupis is located. It’s a country within a country, created in the times when Lithuania got the independence from USSR in 1990 but officialy has been existing since 1997.
The district, where now bohemian Republic of Uzupis can be found, is the area where the local Jewish community used to live. The troublesome history of the II World War forced people to leave hence this cityspace became abandoned and mostly neglected in the Soviet era. Years have passed, Uzupis was kind of forgotten place where mostly underclass of homeless and prostitutes hang out. Eventually local artists started moving it to brighten up the area. The living condition weren’t very good, the houses were run-down, lacking the basic facilities. But free spirits such as artists or students didn’t seem to mind it all that much.
When Republic of Uzupis was created it already got its flag, currency, president, the constitution, army (exactly 11 men) or anthem. Each year on 1st of April the Uzupis Day is celebrated. There’re no big malls or Lithuanian governement institution, instead the area is full of cafes and restaurants where you can meet locals (Uzupio Klasika on Uzupio gatve 28 is known as the Republic’s headquarters). There’s an incredible number of art spread all over the place, from graffiti to angels, just keep your eyes open when you walk around! There’s also the Angel of Uzupis looking at the neighborhood from his place up high in the main square
As lately bohemian neighborhoods became trendy and attract lots of people they might lose their charm. But that’s not the case with Uzupis (so far). I’ve been hanging out there during my each visit to Vilnius (and there were 3 of them in past 4 years) and the neighborhood remains the same, with the bohemian vibe strongly palpable. Sure, there are more and more modern buildings appearing but they somehow tend to blend in and I’m sure that the dark-ish backyards with wodden sheds will remain in their place for a long time. I’m not afraid of the future of Uzupis, it’s most likely stay like it is now, with the true bohemian spirit of freedom.
I try to go to Vilnius often as it’s a wonderful and beautiful city that I like spending time in. But no matter how great the Old Town is I still keep returning to Uzupis and hang out there. And each time I discover something new there – a new cafe, a new piece of art, a new beautiful house. There’re so many places to explore, every corner is unique and special, hidding a history. I know I’ll keep returning there as often as I can as there are not many places like Uzupis left in the world.
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Constitution of Uzupis (can be also found on Paupio street):
Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, while the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by everyone.
Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
Everyone has the right to die, but it is not a duty.
Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
Everyone has the right to individuality.
Everyone has the right to love.
Everyone has the right to be not loved, but not necessarily.
Everyone has the right not to be distinguished and famous.
Everyone has the right to be idle.
Everyone has the right to love and take care of a cat.
Everyone has the right to look after a dog till one or the other dies.
A cat is not obliged to love its master, but it must help him in difficult times.
Everyone has the right to sometimes be unaware of his duties.
Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not a duty.
Everyone has the right to be happy.
Everyone has the right to be unhappy.
Everyone has the right to be silent.
Everyone has the right to have faith.
No one has the right to violence.
Everyone has the right to realize his negligibility and magnificence.
Everyone has the right to encroach upon eternity.
Everyone has the right to understand.
Everyone has the right to understand nothing.
Everyone has the right to be of various nationalities.
Everyone has the right to celebrate or not to celebrate his birthday.
Everyone may share what he possesses.
No-one can share what he does not possess.
Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.
Everyone is capable of independence.
Everyone is responsible for his freedom.
Everyone has the right to cry.
Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.
No-one has the right to make another person guilty.
Everyone has the right to be personal.
Everyone has the right to have no rights.
Everyone has the right to not be afraid.
Do not defeat.
Do not fight back.
Do not surrender.
Would you like to visit Republic of Uzupis?
If you think of visiting Lithuania or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!
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