The old area of Vilnius Old Town climbing from the Vilnia River to Olandu Street, is Uzupis. The formerly run-down district now has many repaired streets, a good number of trendy shops and cafe's and new residential homes. Innovations which have transformed the spirit of the area.
They also diminish its once romantic aura. Several bridges cross the Vilnia River into Uzupis (Užupis). Its central axis, Užupio Street, has rows of low 19th century apartment buildings on both sides. It splits into Kriviu and Polocko streets at the top of the hill.
Uzupis from the top of the hill
Of architectural interest is the tiny Church of St. Bartholomew, which belongs to the Belarussian community. Its present design is by Karol Podczaszynski in 1824. Courtyards throughout the area offer outstanding views of the city.
A gateway off Polocko Street leads to the old Bernadinu cemetery, which is at its loveliest in the early summer, with forget-me-nots in bloom. Buried here are Vilnius University professors, and artists and politicians including Stanislaw Bonifacy Jundzill, Vytautas Kairiukstis, Michal Brensztejn, Halima Kairiukstyte - Jaciniene and Stanislaw Fleury.
Free Republic of Uzupis
In 1997, the residents of the area declared the Republic of Uzupis, 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 about 11 men).
They celebrate this independence on Užupis Day, which falls on April 1. Artistic endeavors are the main preoccupation of the Republic; the former President of the Republic of Uzupis, Romas Lileikis, is himself a poet, musician, and film director.
Arturas Zuokas, a former mayor of Vilnius, lives in Uzupis and often takes part in the Republic's events. Uzupis does not house internet cafe's, kiosks, big malls, or governmental institutions (except Uzupian), and there is no embassy to Lithuania.
It's unclear whether the statehood of the Republic, recognized by no government, intends 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. The flag of the Republic has a palm of hand in a white background. Each season the palm emblem has another color: Winter - blue, Spring - green, Summer - yellow, Autumn - red.
Constitution of Užupis
Copies of the 39 articles of the Republic's constitution and 3 mottos - "Don't Fight", "Don't Win", "Don't Surrender" - in 23 languages, are on a wall on Paupio street in the area. Some of these articles would be unremarkable in a constitution; for instance, Article 5 simply reads "Man has the right to individuality.".
Others are more idiosyncratic. A typical example is in Articles:
- 1 ("People have the right to live by the River Vilnele, while the River Vilnele has the right to flow past people."),
- 12 ("A dog has the right to be a dog."),
- 37 ("People have the right to have no rights."),
each of which makes an unusual apportionment of rights. There are some paired articles, such as Articles
- 16 ("People have the right to be happy."),
- 17 ("People have the right to be unhappy.") which declare people's right to either do or not do something, according to their desire.
Did You Know ?
Each year on April Fool’s Day, the Lithuanian capital’s bohemian, artistic district of Užupis fills with concerts, parades, and guests – all in celebration of Užupian Independence Day.
Gallery “Užupio” in Uzupis
Vytautas Matulionis’ Gallery “Uzupio” is the only specialized art gallery in Lithuania representing old traditions of jewelry art, demonstrating modern plastics of metal and technologies of its processing. The Gallery mounts exhibitions of professional and debuting artists working with metal, provides information about the authors, receives visitors, sells works of art and represents Lithuanian and Vilnius culture in this field.
The Gallery opened in 2000. It's active in propagating the élite jewelry art. Works of such well-known artists as B.Stulgaitė, R.Burneika, V.Matulionis, S.Virpilaitis, V.Vidugirytė, J.Balčiūnas, Ž.Bautėnas, A. Šaulys, M.Relas are exhibited at the Gallery.
|Monday-Friday||11:00 - 19:00|
|Saturday||11:00 - 17:00|
|Address||Užupio g. 3-1, Vilnius|