We’ve all heard of places like Liechtenstein and the Vatican, tiny European nations with minuscule populations. Yet these are internationally recognized states—actual countries, if you will. Even more bizarre are Europe’s micronations: quirky little self-proclaimed lands which have come into existence for the strangest of reasons. Here are the most unusual on the continent.
This tiny slice of eastern France actually formed as a state in jest back in 1947. The owner of a restaurant of the same name jokingly asked a visiting government prefect if they had permission to enter his kingdom. Upon further interrogation, the sharp-witted proprietor invented details of his kingdom on the spot, and was somehow officially appointed president of the new republic. Primarily made up of good-humored retirees, Saugeais once elected one of its many presidents after the latter received a particularly vigorous round of applause.
Perhaps the most famous European micronation is the The Principality of Sealand, a community living on an offshore anti-aircraft platform off the coast of Britain. Despite competing in outrageous international sporting events, such as the world egg throwing championships (which they won in 2008), Sealand hasn’t always been fun and games. Attacks from hired mercenaries, hostage situations, court cases, and imprisonments are all part of its dark history.
Right in the heart of Copenhagen, the anarchist state of Christiania was formed in 1971 when squatters took over a disused military complex to create a hippie commune, openly selling marijuana on a strip known as Pusher Street. Unfortunately, the spoilsport Danish government put an end to these shenanigans in 2004, raiding the complex, which resulted in widespread riots. Recent gang violence, murders, and even a grenade attack mean modern day Christiania isn’t the same hippie paradise it once was.
The head of a local flower growing union in a small town in northwest Italy had the bright idea of declaring independence in the early 1960s, and, astonishingly, almost the entire town supported the crazy move. Known as “His Tremendousness,” the prince ruled over the village until his death in 2009 when a new president was elected shortly thereafter.
Back in 1944, a small island off the coast of Denmark was purchased as a summer camp by a group of local school teachers who jokingly referred to it as their “kingdom.” This knee-slapper of a joke somehow morphed into reality as the island eventually became a self-proclaimed micronation. Some strange laws exist within the kingdom, including a complete ban on the novel Robinson Crusoe, and the adherence to “Elleore Standard Time,” which is precisely 12 minutes behind Danish time.
Literally nothing more than a hotel and restaurant, Romkerhall is set along a river amid some picturesque mountains in central Germany. Once the hunting lodge of King George V, the hotel manager believes its location outside of any municipal jurisdiction is sufficient justification to declare the land the Kingdom of Rockerhall. With the only residents being the proprietor and staff, this kingdom is said to be the smallest in the world.
Literally just a dome-shaped house in a park, the Republic of Kugelmugel formed in 1976 as the result of a bitter zoning dispute between an eccentric artist and a local council. Out of protest, the artist moved his entire house to a park in central Vienna, cordoned it off with barbed wire and declared himself head of state. Despite the president passing in 2015, the state retains some 650 non-resident citizens and the building remains in place as a popular tourist attraction.
A clear mockery of the concept of a micronation, the Kingdom of Lovely formed in 2005 through a BBC comedy documentary series entitled How to Start Your Own Country. A British comedian and self-declared king chose his London apartment as the official territory, recruiting friends from the local pub to act as ministers. Lovely quickly built a huge online following, and at one point attempted to enter the Eurovision song contest.
Founded in 1997, the 120-odd residents of Uzupis have at least one thing in common—a love of eccentric musician Frank Zappa. Upon breaking free of the shackles of the Soviet Empire, the artistic community of Vilinus in Lithuania were once again able to celebrate popular culture. Deciding to take their fandom to the extreme, they formed a new micronation of which Frank Zappa would be the patron saint.
In 2003, an Englishman named Nick officially changed his name to King Nicholas I and started an empire out of his caravan. Remarkably, he gained a huge internet following and successfully went on to sell dubious titles to wannabe royals across the globe. King Nicholas I, or Nick, has even attempted to solidify his status by mingling with other royalty, although with very little success.
One for the bondage fans, the Other World Kingdom within the Czech Republic has a thing for female domination. The most important law of the kingdom states no women are to be punished for any crime, whatsoever. Rather, male slaves must be punished on behalf of their mistress instead. Kinky.