Užupis – city within a city, state within a state

Fot. Marian Paluszkiewicz

This year on April 1 for the residents of Vilnius Užupis is unique because in addition to the most important – Easter – on this day will be celebrated April Fools’ Day, and two local holiday – Day of the White tablecloths, and most importantly for the people of this district – Independence Day of the Republic of Užupis.

Just on this day, sixteen years ago, this district was proclaimed independence. First and foremost, independence and consistency in the creative, because for years and Užupis is a Bohemian, artistic Vilnius in tourist guides is compared to the size of the rather-Montmartre, or to Christiania in Copenhagen. Užupis, however much inspires artists, but it also has its own unique character. Others say that the soul. This year’s celebration of Užupis independence will be above the word modest. Especially when compared with the last year celebration of 15th anniversary Declaration of independence.

— We look forward to how this time the organizers will surprise us with the celebration says US Vice President “Motherland” Krystyna Dzierżyńska, which is a blend of Uzupis Republic, so she knows every corner and remembers how once looked like this. Because it was changing for a few years dynamically. People also change. — There are still old people, but each year there are fewer and fewer. It was probably less than half of us — acknowledges Ms. Krystyna.

In this house lives two. There probably was just Irena. There also a few – lists Teresa Jakimowicz showing us other houses. We are standing in the yard of one of them. Next to the house where our interlokutor lives. At the bottom her new neighbors live. Most of the new residents of the district are mostly newcomers from all over Lithuania.

– In addition to the Academy of Arts, so parents of young people studying bought or rented their home here because it was cheap – Krystyna says

Užupis today is no longer cheap, as the price of the local real estate is often the most expensive in the city, although it was several years ago, it was a district of ruins and slums. It was also a very dangerous neighborhood, and its main street was commonly called the street of Death. Everything began to change in the late 90s of the last century. Užupis began to explore the charm of artists, and behind them walked nouveau riche, especially since the local broken-down houses can be bought for pennies. After reconditioning, their value has grown even a few hundred times.

One of the first “displaced persons”, who discovered the charm of Užupis, was a former and current mayor of Vilnius Artūras Zuokas. He lived in a charming villa near the Mount of Three Crosses. One day, while jogging, he drove along the circumflex Užupis Vilnia until he was on the steep banks of the downtown district. As mentioned, it was love at first sight, because of the lovelyt view that opens the yard stone house ruins on the banks of the river.

Then he decided for himself that he wants to mix with the family at this point every day to have the view from the window. He convinced his wife to this also, so soon sold his villa in Zuokasowie and moved to Užupis. First bought a house here, then just ruined stone house on a slope at the bottom of flowing Vilnia. Today it is one of the most impressive buildings in Užupis, and also a new house of Zuokasów family. Every year there were more new residents, who not only discovered the charm of the neighborhood, but also its creative potential and ideological, which they wanted to find an estuary.

So the idea of ​​the proclamation of the Independent Republic of Užupis. So that this initiative does not bring on unnecessary associations, decided to proclaim the independence of the April Fool’s Day. But even this kind of independence for the government of Vilnius caused serious concern. Government of Vilnius refused to accept an array with the name “Užupio Respublika” (The Republic of Užupis), which is planned to put before the bridge leading to the area. “Signatories” of the last independence, therefore, to a certain cunning and subsequent application typed “Res-crowd” to name no longer bring on  city authorities unwanted associations.

So, too, on 1 April 1997 the Uzupis read the Declaration of independence. As for any sovereign State “Res-audience” of Uzupis has its own anthem and coat of arms. It also has a President, Prime Minister and several Ministers, including Minister of propaganda or resettlement.

The interests in the world Užupis care ambassadors masses in various parts of the planet. It also has its Constitution, which has been translated into several languages, including Polish, and also, for example, Georgian and Hebrew. Recently, the wall street called by local boards of the Constitution was laid next to the translation of the constitution and the Tibetan language Samogitian whose official Lithuanian authorities do not recognize the language. As they say representatives of the Republic of Užupis, their country from the beginning of a precursor and a signpost for the rest of Vilnius and all over Lithuania.

Užupis , for example, has announced its entry into the European Union a year earlier than it did Lithuania. Yet today, when Lithuania only clarified the energy strategy of the country’s independence, Užupis, even last year, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the declaration of independence, symbolically cut through route from Vilnius district heating plants operating on Russian gas, thereby freeing the energy from the outside. Because as they say Užupis inspirers of independence, human energy is the most important, its positive impact on the environment.

The plans for this year’s celebration of independence Užupis is not spectacular, but it will be traditional fun square Angel ceremonial pulling the mast flags of Užupisis. As usual in all seven bridges leading to the area will be exposed to customs worth. There will be concerts, exhibitions, open air. It will not be theatraticall  march through the streets of the district, and that’s because – as explained by the organizers – that this year’s Independence Day coincided with another traditional Užupis  festival- Day White tablecloths, which is always celebrated on the second day of Easter. On that day, the district residents and guests gather on the banks of Vilnia and white tablecloths issue mailed your refreshments, inviting others to do so.

The organizers also invite all to participate in this celebration.

Even if someone is not able to come, come to Užupis, it can always be up against the house table overspread it with a white cloth, and on it put your snacks and invite the neighbors, friends and passers-by – encourage the organizers.

Source: http://kurierwilenski.lt/2013/03/29/zarzecze-miasto-w-miescie-panstwo-w-panstwie/

Tłumaczenie Katarzyna Dąbrowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Dąbrowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu. 

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