The Republic of Uzupis isn’t like any other country.
Well, technically, it isn’t a real republic; it isn’t recognized as such by any other country in the world so sadly, I couldn’t count it as country #20 on my travel map. However, Uzupis is an self-proclaimed independent country within a country.
Uzupis has its own constitution, a 12-man army, a president, flag, national anthem, churches, and a bishop. It is the cultural, artistic, Bohemian district of Vilnius. It’s mostly in the Old Town, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can even get your passport stamped, but only once a year on April Fools’ Day, Uzupis’ birthday. This year will be the 20th Uzupis Day, so the events and formal border set up by the residents ought to be extra special.
I’m guessing that the formal border falls near where I’m standing in the photo above because Uzupis means “the other side of the river” in Lithuanian, and I’m standing in front of the frozen Vilnia River next to the awesome Republic of Uzupis sign.
I love that the first requirement, or law, is smiling! The happy face was the first thing I noticed and of course, you just start smiling; if you’re already smiling, your smile will just get bigger. 😀
The speed limit is 20km/h, and drivers complied. There were hardly any people wandering around and as soon as I was out of the district, I immediately noticed how much busier people were. The few people I did see were smiley, happy and relaxed.
I think that there were so few people for two reasons – there weren’t any special events going on, which was surprising given the area’s reputation for art and cultural events like poetry readings, exhibitions, etc., and secondly, because of Uzupis’ physical state. As you probably noticed in my photos, it’s not exactly in prime condition. It’s quite rundown because authorities didn’t maintain Uzupis during the Soviet period. I heard that Uzupis used to be the poorest part of Vilnius and a red-light district. It’s also one of the oldest parts of Vilnius dating back to the 16th-century, which isn’t surprising since it’s mostly situated in the Old Town.
However, I’m glad that it was so quiet when I went. It was peaceful, and I had no trouble reading and getting shots of the constitution which, I guarantee, will make you smile. 😀 ↓
Since I’m blocking numbers 21 onward, here they are:
22. No one has the right to have a design on eternity.
23. Everyone has the right to understand.
24. Everyone has the right to understand nothing.
25. Everyone has the right to be of any nationality.
26. Everyone has the right to celebrate or not celebrate their birthday.
27. Everyone shall remember their name.
28. Everyone may share what they possess.
29. No one can share what they do not possess.
30. Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.
31. Everyone may be independent.
32. Everyone is responsible for their freedom.
33. Everyone has the right to cry.
34. Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.
35. No one has the right to make another person guilty.
36. Everyone has the right to be individual.
37. Everyone has the right to have no rights.
38. Everyone has the right to not to be afraid.
39. Do not defeat.
40. Do not fight back.
41. Do not surrender.
I had to read Canada’s in school, of course, and I read bits here and bits there of the US constitution, but I just realized that it never dawned on me to read any other country’s constitution. You can test your language skills with any of the 25 additional options. ↓
If you created your own independent republic, what would you include in the constitution?