Užupis is a tiny bohemian neighborhood in Vilnius that declared itself an “independent republic” in 1997. As such, it has its own tongue-in-cheek constitution, flag, and anthem, and every year on April Fool’s day, visitors to the Republic can get their passports stamped with its (totally unofficial) seal. Once home to squatters and prostitutes, Užupis (which literally means, “Beyond the River”) has undergone a transformation of sorts in recent years, and now it still looks kind of poor and run down, but has a few cafés, wine bars, and art galleries.
I’m sure it would be a fun place to party on April first, but on the Monday afternoon when we visited, most of the art galleries were closed and the only artist I saw was a guy from Chicago who I used to know in high school. Something tells me there’s fun to be had in Užupis for the people who actually live there, but not so much for the middle-aged housewife marching along the sidewalk with husband and kids in tow, wearing comfortable sandals and a cross-body bag containing maps, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and all of her important documents.Subscribe to the blog. (It's free!)