Artists' paradise in the Lithuanian capital
A land where eccentrics rebelled in their country's capital has been dubbed the Republic of Angels. There's one main street, surrounded by scores of lanes and courtyards filled with art galleries.
The district of Uzupis, which means 'on the other side of the river', officially declared its independence from Vilnius in 1997.
I've lived around the world and this is the only place I can create freely. It's about love, too. I am extending my house now and I know it's being built on a foundation of love.
It has its own President, Prime Minister and even passport control once a year. But official titles and documents are treated as relics, where their significance is in their sentimental value. In this mini-nation the social contract is expressed through art.
The President of Uzupis, Romas Lileikis, says, “The best way to describe our republic is a place that's not on the World map but a place that has its own map.”
The President, a poet and film director, is mostly responsible for the republic's flags – all four of them, as there's one for each season - and, of course, its army of 12.
“Our constitution is a paradox and the paradox of our constitution is a great way to understand Uzupis,” Romas Leleikis states.
The constitution says all men have the right to things some might take for granted, like the right to be happy or unhappy.
Linas Cicenas, a well-known artist whose paintings sell for thousands of dollars, says Uzupis is the only place in the world where he can create.
“I've lived around the world and this is the only place I can create freely. It's about love, too. I am extending my house now and I know it's being built on a foundation of love,” Linas says.
His friend John, who he meet while working in London, also can't seem to get enough of this community and is planning on buying his own house.
It's a pleasure to come here – to this international city, cosmopolitan village," John Cockleburg, a writer and historian, says.