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Location - Baltic, Eastern Europe; Capital - Vilnius; Population - 3million; Currency - Euro MORE LITHUANIA

In Vilnius cross the Vilnia River to the east bank and discover an independent nation! And Trakai and Paneriai are easy half-day trips from the capital - April 2015.

euroOn 1 January 2015 Lithuania switched currencies from the Lita to the Euro









lithuania154A quirky area of Vilnius is the 'independent' Republic of Uzupis - Uzupis, Vilnius


lithuania153Walk past the welcome signs at the border and across the bridge spanning the Vilnia River to the Republic of Uzupis, Vilnius


lithuania158It's a haven for bohemians, poets, musicians and artists - Uzupis, Vilnius













lithuania159The Uzupis Mermaid looks rather worried - Uzupis, Vilnius


















lithuania162Just after the bridge is what looks like a makeshift sentry box - Uzupis, Vilnius


lithuania165This tongue-in-cheek breakaway state doesn't take itself too seriously - Uzupis, Vilnius


lithuania167aThe entrance to the artists quarter which has galleries, shops and a post office where you can get your passport stamped! Uzupis, Vilnius












lithuania193In Uzupio Kavine cafe are photos of past independence day celebrations, held on 1 April - Uzupis, Vilnius














lithuania167Always keep an eye out for sculptures and statues spread around Uzupis, Vilnius, especially along the river near Uzupio Kavine


lithuania169Very popular in Eastern Europe are chained padlock on bridges, a symbol of a couple's eternal love - Uzupis, Vilnius


lithuania177The 41 point constitution appears in several languages - Uzupis, Vilnius












lithuania178The constitution includes such delights as: Everyone has the right to be unique, the right to love, the right to be happy, the right to be unhappy, the right to love and take care of a cat, and of course that a dog has the right to be a dog - Uzupis, Vilnius











lithuania175Independence was declared by a group of residents in 1997 and the constitution drafted in 1998. As of late 2014 Jaap van Ark is the President of Uzupis, taking over from Romas Lileikis. And apparently there's an army of 11, 12 or 18 depending on what you read - Uzupis, Vilnius


lithuania186The Uzupis flag flutters in the main square - Uzupis, Vilnius


lithuania183The republic's symbol is the Angel of Uzupis in the main central square - Uzupis, Vilnius














lithuania184The Angel of Uzupis is a figure of the Archangel Gabriel blowing a trumpet - Uzupis, Vilnius














uzupisnote1Not quite a fully fledged currency but these 'Uzas' were used as beer vouchers on Uzupis Day, naturally held on 1 April, April Fool's Day. The Angel of Uzupis takes centre stage on the note.


lithuania189Walking past street art on Uzupio Gatvie - Uzupis, Vilnius


lithuania190A decaying alleyway full of graffiti, which I read somewhere is an area dedicated to a local artist who paved the way for street art - Uzupis, Vilnius












lithuania191An alley(way) cat looking a little bit on edge - Uzupis, Vilnius













lithuania195Goodbye to the Republic of Uzupis! - Vilnius


lithuania211The ruins of the 14th century Peninsula Castle stand over Lake Luka in Trakai, a short distance from Vilnius












lithuania219But the main reason to visit is to explore the Island Castle - Trakai












lithuania225The Island Castle sits in Lake Galve at the tip of the Trakai peninsula


lithuania227It's likely that Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, set his capital at Trakai, but the castle was built later, around 1400


lithuania229The grounds host the Trakai History Museum - Trakai













lithuania231A portcullis at the Island Castle - Trakai














lithuania233It's a popular excursion for both group tours and local school children - Trakai


lithuania239A brightly decorated log standing outside one of the many souvenir stalls in Trakai


lithuania217The minority Karaite community's 19th century kenesa (Karaite synagogue) - Trakai













lithuania218The 20min walk from the bus station passes many traditional wooden houses on the peninsula - Trakai












lithuania210Lake Totoriskiu is one of several lakes surrounding the Trakai peninsula - Trakai


lithuania241Only 15mins by train from Vilnius is the Paneriai Memorial - Paneriai













lithuania247At this site up to 100,000 people, mainly Jews but also Poles and Russians, died at the hands of the Nazis in WWII - Paneriai













lithuania258A Jewish monument, and in the distance a Soviet one, form part of the memorial in the grounds of Paneriai


lithuania256One of several burial pits in the forest - Paneriai



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