If you wander across the bridge of rusted padlocks just off one of the main streets in Vilnius, you’ll find yourself quite literally in another city: Užupis. This self-appointed mini city has its own flag, currency, president and constitution and has become something of a Baltic Montmartre with its own enclave of artists, bohemians and creatives.
Užupis is a million miles away from the grandeur of the old town, it’s teeming with crumbling colonial houses, graffiti, sturdy beer bars and natty galleries and home to two of Vilnius’ most eye-catching sculptures: Romas Vilciauskas’ Užupis Mermaid (which you can spot on the river bank next to portraits of Vilnius’ most famous tramps) and Angel.
We climbed past the park swarming with pigeons and the little supermarket selling bread to locals to Restoranas TORES, a shabby chic restaurant decked out in dark wood and murals with hearty portions and panoramic terrace views that sweep along the breadth of the Lithuanian countryside.
No visit to Užupis would be complete without a visit to the constitution placards, which detail how the residents should live their lives with handy laws like ‘Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation’ and ‘A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need.