Today I’m going to introduce you a funny thing which many people even don’t know about. If I asked which are the smallest countries in Europe of course most of you would answer that it’s Vatican, Monaco or San Marino. Yes, I totally agree with you. Officially Vatican in the middle of Rome is the smallest country in the world. But today I want to introduce you a ‘country’ in the middle of Europe you have probably never heard about before. This small republic is called Užupis and you can find it in the middle of Vilnius. Don’t worry! You even don’t need a visa or a passport to visit it. The only thing you have to do is to cross the bridge over the river Vilnia. The Lithuanian preposition už means behind and upė means river. So the name Užupis simply means behind the river and it is one of the three main parts of Vilnius along with the Old City Senamiestis and its historical sights I already have introduced you in my previous articles and the New City Naujamiestis with its skyscrapers and glass buildings. But I want to pay more attention to Užupis as its history is comparable to Montmartre in Paris or Christiania in Copenhagen. This very part of Vilnius has been a dominated by poverty and criminality before when suddenly step by step artists and well educated people started to settle down here. The poverty and criminality started to disappear and Užupis declared itself as a republic electing even its own president and passing even a constitution which sounds really funny. I want to introduce you only a few sentences from the republics constitution:
‘Everybody has the right to live near the river of Vilnia and the river if Vilnia has the right to flow over anybody and anything’
‘Everybody has the right to be extraordinary’
‘Everybody is responsible for his liberty’
Isn’t that lovely?! I wish our European politicans had so much sense of hunour.