A friend told me that she saw a short film a few years ago about a man in Austria who built his own unique house, and then declared it an independent nation. She couldn't remember who this man was, but a little of the old internet searching finally brought me around to the story of Edwin Lipburger.
In 1971, this Austrian artist built a most intriguing home, one that is completely spherical. After building his "Sphaera 2000" in the small village of Katzelsdorf, he then came into trouble with the local government for refusing to procure permits for his project.
Lipburger reached an agreement in 1984 to move the house to Vienna. But the city then reversed their offer to pay for the costs of the move (and hooking up water and power), prompting Lipburger to form his own tiny Republic of Kugelmugel ("Ball Hill"). To defray costs, he began to issue his own stamps and passports.
This created a bit of a local media sensation, but the government wasn't pleased. Lipburger was arrested for refusing to pay taxes. Fortunately, after only a few weeks in prison he was pardoned by the Austrian President.
The sphere still occupies the grounds of the Vienna Prater, where it is an oft-ignored side attraction. Even though Lipburger was usurped, they still sell it to the tourists as an independent republic.
Part nation, part home, and all work of art, this may be worth a pilgrimage on your next visit to Austria. Even if they won't even let you look at the inside. Boo to that!
- Details on the Republic (from Lonely Planet's Micro Nations tour guide)
- Croy Nielsen Gallery 2005 exhibit on Kugelmugel
- Cabinet Magazine's "Minor History of Giant Spheres"