Užupis is a small bohemian republic located within Vilnius, Lithuania. Translating to over the river, visitors entering Užupis will cross lock-ladened bridges left by lovers “locking” their love. Once over the bridges, visitors have technically stepped foot into a different republic, with its own constitution and special independence day (April 1). Numerous, colorful works of street art decorate the otherwise grey streets, and new construction projects are breathing life into this fun-loving republic.
Beware of tripping over centuries-old exposed bones sticking up from graves at the Bernardine Cemetery. This cemetery is one of the oldest in Vilnius, and is truly a stunning place to visit. Created by Bernardine monks in 1810, Bernardine Cemetery has been recently restored. It is particularly beautiful to visit in the fall to see the bright yellow leaves, or on All Saints’ Day on November 1 when it is lit by candlelight.
As the home of artists and bohemians, Užupis has become well known for its excellent street art. Visitors will find the frequently changing works concentrated by the Vilnia River. The bright artworks really do wonders to lighten up the mood during Lithuania’s long, grey winters.
Galleries abound in Užupis. The Užupis Art Incubator has decorated its courtyard with numerous statues and tiny touches of street art. Inside, visitors will find frequently changing exhibits and little shops to buy local art. Another gallery to stop by is Edita Suchockye’s Art Gallery, which shows the artist’s works, mostly gorgeous paintings of women and some animals. Feel free to browse or purchase a piece of art while the friendly Suchockye explains the intricate process she uses to create her art.
Užupis Art Incubator, Užupio g. 2, Vilnius, Lithuania, +370 5 215 4389
Edita Suchockye’s Art Gallery, Užupio g. 14, Vilnius, Lithuania, +370 8 618 15323
The Užupis Angel
The Užupis Angel is Užupis’ symbol, or she might even be considered Užupis’ mascot. Located in a small square on Užupio g., the bronze Užupis Angel stands nine meters tall, attracting all eyes. The Užupis Angel was placed in 2002 and was created by the Lithuanian sculptor Romas Vilciauskas. Before the angel took its place, the Egg Statue, now currently located on Pylimo g., was located here.
In addition to shopping for art, Užupis is home to several small shops. Vejas Gluosniuose is an excellent store for shoe lovers. They sell indie brands with goods mainly handcrafted in Portugal and Spain. The Užupis Gift Store is another popular spot for purchasing mugs and other tchotchkes adorned with the Užupis Constitution. Visitors can also ask for an Užupis Republic passport stamp at this gift store.
Vejas Gluosniuose, Užupio g. 15/3, Vilnius, Lithuania, +370 8 652 58959
Located just over one of the bridges into Užupis, Tibet Square is a small park that is perfect for relaxing or browsing a book from the colorful Little Free Library. Tibet Square is adorned with prayer flags. From here, visitors also have a great view of the Vilnia River and some sculptures in the Užupis Art Incubator.
The Užupis Constitution
The Užupis Constitution provides a good laugh, with rules such as “Every dog has the right to be a dog,” and “Sometimes everyone has the right to be unaware of their duties.” Užupis’ Constitution has been translated into numerous languages, such as English, Russian, and Tibetan, so visitors might be able to enjoy the rules in their native language.
Walk along the Vilnia River
To fully appreciate Užupis, walk along the Vilnia River to spot rotating art exhibits and the Užupis Mermaid. For those who don’t mind getting their feet wet, the swing under the Užupio Bridge is a fun spot for photographs and fun.
Visitors may want to rest their weary feet at one of Užupis’ fine cafés. A local favorite, Coffee 1, recently opened a new café on Užupio g, providing views of the Užupis Angel. Serving delicious coffee from locally roasted beans and delectable sweet treats, visitors are sure to feel rejuvenated in the cozy environment. Another café option is Thierry Kepykla, which serves soups, light sandwiches, coffee, tea, and assorted baked goods.
Thierry Kepykla, Užupio g. 19, Vilnius, Lithuania, +370 8 679 09081
Užupis is home to one of the most highly rated restaurants in all of Vilnius — Sweet Root. Sweet Root restaurant offers a creative seven-course tasting menu. The inventive chefs employ local goods, often incorporating wild gathered foods. If you hope to enjoy a meal at Sweet Root, be sure to book a table in advance.
Maghrib is another excellent option in Užupis and serves the only Moroccan food in the city. Maghrib has several vegetarian dishes, making this a great restaurant for diners with dietary restrictions.
Sweet Root, Užupio g. 22, Vilnius 01203, +370 8 685 60767
Maghrib, Užupio g. 22, Vilnius 01203, +370 8 614 98283