Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Geopiece of the Day: The independent Republic of Užupis

Nestled in Vilnius, Lithuania the independent  Republic of Užupis is a small part, barely more than half a square kilometer, of the city that is geographically "challenged" due to its location of the banks of the Vilnia river. Užupis is literally translated to "on the other side of the river" and is a major draw to artists and lovers of the bohemian lifestyle. The district that encompasses parts of the old town center of the Lithuanian capital and has been elevated to a UNESCO World Heritage Site harbors only about 7,000 people and one in seven has the professional work tag of artist in the community.

Bordered by a river, steep hills and old soviet industrial grounds the district is a perfect nest of the artist movement seen by the rich graffiti of many of its buildings. 

The egg statue of "Independent on the other side of the river" Later replaced by an angel and sold via auction

The Republic declared its independence on April Fool´s Day 1 April 1997 and introduced their own anthem, currency, governmental structure and raised an army. The army approximately encompasses a fighting force of 12 man. One of the freedom symbols of the Republic is a statue of musician Frank Zappa, which was conceived in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. Due to the nature of the rise of the iron curtain and the impressive nature of the number of statues left depicting communist leaders something had to be done. Statues of Lenin were torn down left and right and plenty of plinths remained with no statues on them to showcase. So they decided to erect a statue of Frank Zappa, naturally.

If you are looking for an off the grid travel destination "On the other side of the river" might be for you.

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