Užupis [Vilnius, Lithuania]

Užupis is a district in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The district is popular with artists and is compared to Monmartre in Paris due to its bohemian atmosphere.

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. After Lithuania’s declaration of independence the situation changed, Užupis became popular among artists which made this district a prestigious place to live.

In 1997, the residents of the area declared the Republic of Užupis, along with its own flag, currency, anthem, and army (numbering approximately 11 men). They celebrate this independence annually on Užupis Day which falls on April 1. Artistic endeavourous are the main preoccupation of the Republic. It is unclear whether the statehood of the Republic, recognized by no government, is intended to be serious, tongue-in-cheeks 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 huour and non-importance of ‘serious’ political decisions.

[ source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Užupis ].

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