Born As An April Fools’ Day Joke, Užupis Is One Of The World’s Smallest Republics

Užupis is among the world's smallest republics

by Tejashee Kashyap
Born As An April Fools’ Day Joke, Užupis Is One Of The World’s Smallest Republics

Tucked away in the heart of Vilnius, Lithuania, lies a tiny yet vibrant neighbourhood known as Užupis. Once a harmless April Fools joke, it has grown into one of the smallest republics in the world. As an April Fool’s Day hoax, this free-spirited neighbourhood in Vilnius, Lithuania, declared its independence on April 1, 1997.

World’s Smallest Republic

Nestled within Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, Užupis is among the world’s smallest republics, with a land area of less than one square kilometer. But don’t let its diminutive size deceive you; it has a president, government, currency, and constitution all its own. It even has a fleet, made up of three or four miniature boats that are mostly used ceremonially.

Together, the artists and locals created a hilarious constitution full of satire and wacky legislation, which resulted in the creation of the Republic of Užupis and a distinct and imaginative sense of community. This is the formation story of one of the world’s smallest republics, Užupis.

It changed from having a rather dirty reputation in the early 1990s to becoming a wealthy community of academics, artists, and local moguls. On April 1, 1997, the district proclaimed its independence and brought with it a resilient spirit of freedom, as well as its own currency, administration, anthem, and constitution.

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What To Do In Užupis?

One of the smallest republics in Europe has the constitution up on a wall with different language versions of it. Article 12 of the document says, “A dog has the right to be a dog.” It’s not your typical constitution. However, Užupis is not your typical location. The majority of the community consists of creative types, artists, and bohemian lifestyle enthusiasts. There are artworks hung from the sides of the narrow streets, in the little parks, and along the riverbank.

Like every other sovereign state, Užupis possesses the Bridge of Užupis as its official border crossing. On April 1, which is recognized as the United States Independence Day, tourists can get their passports stamped at the bridge. An iconic location in Vilnius, the bridge is adorned with love locks all year round. Take the Destiny’s Swing test beneath the Užupis Bridge for a chance to find the Užupis Maiden or the Mermaid. According to legend, if you stare at her for too long, you might be tempted to move to Užupis.

Do you plan to visit this unique republic?

Cover image credits: Wikimedia Commons