Užupis

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The Republic of Užupis
St. Bartholomew Church in Užupis

Užupis (Yiddish: זארעטשע‎, Belarusian: Зарэчча, Russian: Заречье, Polish: Zarzecze) is a neighborhood in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, largely located in Vilnius' old town,[1] a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Užupis means "beyond the river" or "the other side of the river" in the Lithuanian language and refers to the Vilnia River;[2][3][4] the name Vilnius was derived from the Vilnia.[5] The district has been popular with artists for some time,[6][7] and has been compared to Montmartre in Paris and to Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen,[8][7] due to its bohemian and laissez-faire atmosphere. On April 1, 1997, the district declared itself an independent republic (The Republic of Užupis).[2]

Geography[edit]

Užupis is quite small and isolated, being only about 148 acres (60 ha) in size;[3] it has around 7,000 inhabitants, nearly 1,000 of which are artists.[1] On one side it is separated from the Old Town by the Vilnia River, on the second there are steep hills, and on the third side it borders on an industrial area built under Soviet rule. The first bridges across the river were built in the 16th century, at which time the district's inhabitants were mostly Jewish.

History[edit]

Graffiti on one of Užupis' buildings

The district contains the Bernardine Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in the city.[9] Most of the district's Jewish population were killed during the Holocaust, and later the old Jewish Cemetery uphill would be destroyed by the Soviets. The houses left abandoned were later occupied by marginal elements of society, mainly the homeless and prostitutes. Until Lithuania's declaration of independence in 1990, it was one of the most neglected areas in the city, containing many run-down houses, many without utilities. The district has been a common haunt of artists and bohemians since Soviet times, and even today many young artists are squatting in abandoned buildings near the Vilnia River.

The Republic of Užupis[edit]

Flag of the Republic of Užupis
Sign at the border of Užupis

In 1997, the residents of the area declared the Republic of Užupis, along with its own flag, unofficial currency, president, cabinet of ministers, a constitution written by Romas Lileikis and Thomas Chepaitis, an anthem, and an army of approximately 11 men.[10][2] The army has since been retired.[2] The residents of the self-declared republic celebrate this independence annually on Užupis Day, which falls on April 1.[2] Artistic endeavours are the main preoccupation of the Republic; the President of the Republic of Užupis, Romas Lileikis, is himself a poet, a musician, and a film director.

The Republic has granted several notable individuals honorary citizenship, such as the Dalai Lama, who visited the Republic in 2013.[11]

Artūras Zuokas, a former mayor of Vilnius, lives in Užupis.[12] Užupis does not house Internet-cafes, kiosks, big malls, or governmental institutions (except Užupian), and there is no embassy to Lithuania.

It is unclear whether the statehood of the Republic, recognized by no government, is intended 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 contains a palm of hand in a white background. The palm emblem is painted in a different color each season: Winter - blue, Spring - green, Summer - yellow, Autumn - red.[13]

Constitution of Užupis[edit]

The Munich version of the constitution of the Republic of Užupis including an additional article about artificial intelligence (no. 39).

Copies of the 38 articles of the Republic's constitution and 3 mottos - "Don't Fight", "Don't Win", "Don't Surrender" - in 23 languages, can be found affixed to a wall in Paupio street in the area. Sanskrit and Hindi versions of the constitution were added on 25th May 2017. 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 can be found in Articles 1 ("People have the right to live by the River Vilnelė, while the River Vilnelė has the right to flow past people."), 12 ("A dog has the right to be a dog.") and 37 ("People have the right to have no rights."), each of which makes an unusual apportionment of rights. There are a number of paired articles, such as Articles 16 ("People have the right to be happy.") and 17 ("People have the right to be unhappy.") which declare people's right to either do or not do something, according to their desire.[14] Minister of Foreign Affairs Thomas Chepaitis, Ambassador H. E. Max Haarich and AI-Expert Alex Waldmann formulated an additional article for the Munich Embassy: "Any artificial intelligence has the right to believe in a good will of humanity." This makes the Užupian constitution the world's first constitution to mention artificial intelligence. In September 2018 the constitution was blessed by Pope Francesco during his visit in Vilnius.

The Užupis Constitution
  1. Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, and the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by everyone.
  2. Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
  3. Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation.
  4. Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
  5. Everyone has the right to be unique.
  6. Everyone has the right to love.
  7. Everyone has the right not to be loved, but not necessarily.
  8. Everyone has the right to be undistinguished and unknown.
  9. Everyone has the right to idle.
  10. Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat.
  11. Everyone has the right to look after the dog until one of them dies.
  12. A dog has the right to be a dog.
  13. A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of nee[d].
  14. Sometimes everyone has the right to be unaware of their duties.
  15. Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not an obligation.
  16. Everyone has the right to be happy.
  17. Everyone has the right to be unhappy.
  18. Everyone has the right to be silent.
  19. Everyone has the right to have faith.
  20. No one has the right to violence.
  21. Everyone has the right to appreciate their unimportance. [In Lithuanian this reads Everyone has the right to realize his negligibility and magnificence.]
  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.

Angel of Užupis[edit]

The Angel of Užupis
The earlier sculpture of an egg before the Angel of Užupis was erected in its place

On April 1, 2002, a statue of an angel blowing a trumpet was unveiled in the main square. The idea was developed from a desire to erect an angel in memory of animator and caricaturist Zenonas Šteinys. It became a symbol of the revival Užupis. The funds were raised by selling miniature copies of the sculpture.[15] The sculptor, Romas Vilčiauskas, is also the creator of the Užupis Mermaid.[16]

Previously, a temporary sculpture of an egg stood in its place.[9] After being replaced by the larger statue of Gabriel, the egg was sold at an auction for 10,200 litas and now stands on Pylimo street.

Notable residents[edit]

Notable people who have resided in Užupis include:

In creative works[edit]

Užupis was the topic of a 2015 piece of music by The Mighty Sieben, featuring the three mottos, "Don't Fight", "Don't Win", "Don't Surrender".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Arty, hipster and a country within a country: Welcome to the Republic of Užupis". Metro. 2018-09-11. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  2. ^ a b c d e Rhone, Erin. "Užupis: A tiny republic of free spirits". Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  3. ^ a b "The country that lives for a day". www.baltictimes.com. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  4. ^ www.gaumina.lt, e-solution: Gaumina. "Užupis | A Neighbourhood in the Capital". www.lithuania.travel. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  5. ^ Tourism, Vilnius (2011-08-30). "The Legend of the Founding of Vilnius | Vilnius Tourist Information Centre". Vilnius Tourist Information Centre. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  6. ^ Crabb, Jon. "Užupis: How 12 Lithuanian Artists Created an Independent Republic in Vilnius". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  7. ^ a b "The second renaissance of Užupis has come to an end - Ober-haus.com". Ober-haus.com. 2016-09-13. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  8. ^ "The identity crisis of self-declared nations | International Semester – semester projects". final16.mediajungle.dk. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  9. ^ a b Georgian, Elizabeth. "The Best Things to See and Do in Užupis, Vilnius". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  10. ^ "Zappa lives in Lithuania". Rolling Stone.
  11. ^ Vidunas, Vytis (2015-07-07). "Friends of Tibet in Lithuania Celebrate the Dalai Lama". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  12. ^ Bernstein, Roslyn (2016-06-14). "Arturas Zuokas and The Happiness Factor: A Lithuanian Perspective". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  13. ^ http://www.umi.lt/en/
  14. ^ Link to English translation of Uzupis Constitution
  15. ^ http://kauno.diena.lt/naujienos/vilniaus-miestas/simbolis-uzupio-angelas-iskilo-mazu-kopiju-240395
  16. ^ http://www.fotobankas.lt/fotografija/list/search/Romo+Vil%C4%8Diausko+undin%C4%97l%C4%97

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°40′50″N 25°17′49″E / 54.68056°N 25.29694°E / 54.68056; 25.29694