Vilnius was one of the places which I did not research much before travelling. I just went there trusting the recommendations of my colleagues who hail from the city and another close friend of mine. However, the morning after I arrived in Vilnius, I was trying to plan my day out as to which places I’d visit after the guided walking tour, and I came across this place, Užupis. The pictures on the internet did not tell me much. I had to dig in a bit to understand what Užupis is, what are the things to do in Užupis, why is it famous, and so on.
I started my day with the guided walking tour of Vilnius, and the end part of the tour was about Užupis. I reached the Užupis Republic. Oh my my! I was totally in love with the place, more so in love with the idea behind it. It reminded me of something similar to Auroville in India.
The idea of Užupis goes like this. One day two drunk men in a bar, fed up of things in their society, decided to start their own country. They wrote down a list of random things which ended up being their constitution. The list was arbitrary but was fun yet deep to read. It lists many things related to freedom, how should a human be treated, what can he/she do, what a cat or dog should do, and so on. Here are some of my favorites below.
Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
Everyone has the right to love.
Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat.
Everyone has the right to look after the dog until one of them dies.
Sometimes everyone has the right to be unaware of their duties.
Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not an obligation.
Everyone has the right to be happy.
Everyone has the right to be unhappy.
No one has the right to violence.
Everyone has the right to understand nothing.
Everyone has the right to celebrate or not celebrate their birthday.
Everyone may be independent.
Everyone has the right to cry.
As of today, there’s a street with a wall of their constitution translated into many languages, and I managed to find the Hindi one as well. If a language of your choice is missing, you can also request to have it translated and put it on a wall for a fee of a few thousand euros. You can read it in a language of your choice here: https://uzhupisembassy.eu/uzhupis-constitution/
Today, Užupis is a spoof banana republic sort of a place but an ideology of how the world can become a better place if it wishes to. The bar where the two drunk men came up with this idea is now called the barliament. It has a fake border control over the bridge. You can even get your passport stamped there. A souvenir shop exists around the corner where you can buy unofficial Užupis stamps and money. On the 1st of April, people gather at what they call their square where everyone gets beers.
It is a lovely place to visit if you are looking for an alternate small world. Even the Dalai Lama visited this place a few years back. It also has beautiful bars, art, cafes, and streets, and soaking into the atmosphere and ideology behind Užupis. I strongly recommend one devotes a couple of hours at least to Užupis if you are in Vilnius.