Uzupis gets its name from its location in Vilnius and means “beyond the river.” On the eastern side of Old Town, the neighborhood occupies a bend in the Vilnia River (the river for which Vilnius gets its name). Cross the bridges over the Vilnia from Old Town, and you have entered Uzupis.
Despite Uzupis’ mostly 19th-century look, the district is at least as old as the 16th century. It was historically inhabited by craftspeople, and that tradition of artisanry continues today. During Soviet times, Uzupis was allowed to fall into disrepair, and the low prices of accommodations attracted artists, who have given Uzupis its Bohemian reputation and sense of whimsy.
Independent RepublicOne of the most intriguing aspects of Uzupis is its 1988 declaration of independence. Its famous 41-article constitution outlines its citizens’ rights, including: to be happy, to be unique, and to understand. The shiny plaques in 15 languages can be found on Paupio Street ensure that visitors, no matter where they are from, can read the constitution and understand more about what Uzupis stands for. The Uzupis coat of arms, an open palm with a circle inside, is also displayed on the wall beside the plaques.
The Uzupis citizens, with their determined sense of the ironic, declared April 1st to be Uzupis Day. On this day, the district celebrates its uniqueness and visitors will have to show their documents to passport control before entering the district on this fun day.
Uzupis has its own 12-person military, a list of honorary citizens, and its own president!
Sights in UzupisBesides its famous constitution, Uzupis has a number of sights for visitors who wander into this section of town.
The most noticeable feature of the main square is the trumpet-blowing bronze angel sculpture on its column. This sculpture replaced the large stone egg that previously stood as a symbol for Uzupis in 2002 and has subsequently become a symbol associated with Uzupis.
The Bernadine Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Vilnius and dates from the beginning of the 19th century. Several notable figures from Lithuania’s history are buried here, including painters, writers, and historians.
St. Bartholemew Church can be found just off of Uzupis’ main drag through an archway.The small white church occupies one corner of a courtyard and replaces an earlier church. It now belongs to a community of Catholic worshippers from Belarus.