Upon visiting a tourist information office in Vilnius we learned there was another micronation in the middle of the city. We had visited a number of them a few years prior, so of course we needed to see this one. Conveniently within walking distance we set out to enter the Republic of Užupio.
A little research on Wikipedia taught us the name is derived from Užupis, which simply means “the other side of the river.” Makes sense because the entrance was a bridge over the Vilnia River. The district had been popular with artists and has been compared to Momtmarte in Paris “due to it’s bohemia and laissez-faire atmosphere.”
Most of the district’s Jewish population were killed during World War II, leaving abandoned homes that were later occupied by artists, which at that time seemed to be a euphemism for homeless people and prostitutes. Eventually Lithuania declared independence in 1990.
In 1997 the citizens of the district declared themselves independent, wrote a constitution, made a flag and created a standing army of 11 men. Their official holiday is April 1, Užupis Day. Of course nobody recognizes their independence officially, but there are an awful lot of tongues planted firmly in cheeks.
The water nymph or mermaid seemed to be a type of mascot for the district.
The Angel of Užupis is a sculpture of the angel Gabriel to signify the revival of Užupis.
We didn’t spend too much time in Užupis since we are Look and Leave veterans, so we crossed a different bridge over the Vilnia River and headed out.
I wasn’t surprised to see graffiti on the sign signifying leaving Užupis. There was graffiti on the wall around the mermaid, too.
Chalk up another visit to a micronation. This time it was one we discovered by mistake.