On one of our early visits to Vilnius when we were still exploring different parts of the city we wandered into the district known as Uzupis and came upon the “Uzupis Angel” in the little square at the entrance to the district. The sculpture of an angel was placed in the central square of Užupis in 2002. The bronze angel, also created by sculptor Romas Vilčiauskas, has become the symbol of Užupis.
Užupis is sometimes compared to Monmartre in Paris or Christiania in Copenhagen. Užupis is a “republic” of artists. It has its own anthem, constitution, president, bishop, two churches, one of the oldest graveyards in Vilnius (Bernardine Cemetery), seven bridges, and a guardian (the bronze angel of Užupis). The constitution of the Republic of Užupis is displayed on a fence at the beginning of Paupio Street in around 15 different languages (you have to read it as it is hilarious in parts).
As it was a hot day we took up residence in a little bar just to the side of the square to have a nice cold glass of Svyturys beer and take the weight off our wear legs. Shortly after we sat down a number of wedding cars drove in to the square, pulled up and out got the bride and groom along with respective families. The numerous photographs were taken under “The Angel” at a water pump and various other sites in the square.
My colleague and I looked at each other in amazement as the cavalcade drove off after about 15 minutes. Then quickly along came another wedding party following the same rituals ( I forgot to mention the groom carrying the bride across the river bridge and placing a lock on the bridge to commemorate the marriage).
A further two wedding parties followed in quick succession, again following the same rituals and taking of photographs. We just sat back and enjoyed the spectacle before us.
We later learned that it is the custom for married couples to visit parts of the city to carry out certain rituals and to have photographs taken on their wedding day and I have to say that it is quite an event when the wedding cavalcade rolls up and all the friends and family of the bride and groom participate and contribute to the rituals
So, if you are ever in Vilnius make sure you visit the Republic of Uzupis and if it is a Saturday be prepared to see the numerous wedding parties that add such colour and atmosphere to the place.