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Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous area situated in Christianshavn within the former military barracks of Bådsmandsstræde and parts of the city ramparts. The barracks were abandoned by the military between 1967 and 1971, and in 1971 the fences were broken down and the area reclaimed by locals, possibly partly as a protest against the government and the lack of affordable housing. People quickly moved in with the objective of forming a self-governing, self-self-sustaining society based on ideas of community and freedom, and were tolerated as a sort of semi-official 'social experiment'. More recently, after many years dispute, the residents of Christiania bought the land on which their community lives from the government.
Probably the most well-known part of Christiania is Pusher Street, where cannabis is openly sold (though there are now regular police raids), but there is far more to the area than this. Some very pleasant cafes and bars operate, such as Månefiskeren (the Moonfisher), and Nemoland, bands play at Loppen and Den Grå Hal (the Grey Hall), which also hosts the Christmas market every year, and on top of all of that, as well as the former barracks there are many houses built according to the 'architecture without architects' ideal which makes for fascinating buildings! I have spent many pleasant afternoons there with friends and a few beers sat down by the lake - well worth a visit!
Just one warning - do not take photos in and around the 'Green Light District' aka Pusher Street. The people selling hash there are justifiably worried about being captured in photos/video, signs there even request you to keep your phone put away. Please respect their wishes and save your photos for other parts of the area (the residential areas are worth photographing!).
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- Arts and Culture
Christiania is a famous hippie community sitting right smack in the center of town.
It used to be a part of town beloning to the army but has for more than 30 years been occupied by hippies who live their own alternative lifestyle.
It's a nice place to go if you start to think that everything is a bit too organised and civilized in the rest of Copenhagen.
The place has a lot of performing art and a very vibrant music scene.
there are often big bands giving concerts out there.
Christiania is a place where the people try to live as organic as possible too and organic stores are all over the place.
The place has in recent years has a bit of friction with the danish goverment because of the precense of marihuana and the absence of tax paying and if the police comes by when you are there i advice you to take a step back as fights do occur from time to time between police and Christiania residents.
Having said that you should not worry about visiting though.
it's one of the safest parts of Copenhagen and people are calm and friendly even if they look a little odd.
- Arts and Culture
What an interesting place to visit. Nowhere in Copenhagen will you find any flyers or info on this place. The grafiti here is absolutely top art. The people are very friendly. You are not allowed to take any photos inside the compound
Christiania was founded in 1971 when a group of citizens knocked down the fence to an abandoned military area and set up a new hippie community, completely independent of the Danish government. That was more than 40 years ago, and today the Freetown is not as free as it once was... Residents are paying taxes, fees for water, electricity, etc. - and in 2012 a new Christiania fund bought the area from the Danish state.
Christiania is home for many creative people and if you take a walk through the Freetown you’ll see several beautiful paintings and sculptures – and some of the houses are art pieces themselves. There are also good craft shops, theatres, live music, and some nice dining places. One the other hand, not all is positive… There are some rundown parts and Christiania is for everybody and you’ll also see drunk and stoned people... Not a happy sight...
What about safety? There has been a couple of violent events in the last couple of years, but I think it is an OK place with friendly people and I have no worries going there. However, you could check the actual status of Christiania before your visit. Don’t take pictures everywhere - ask if you are in doubt!!!
- Arts and Culture
FREETOWN 'Welcome to the Ell'
Chrsitiania is a neighbourhood in Christianiahavn with around 850 residents. Officially Christiana is a commune and follows the Christiana Law.
The area was 'created' in 1971 and is most famous for its tolerance of cannibis. In 2004 the authorities decided they would prefer to 'normalise' the laws that govern Christiana - it is all under negotiation. Of course, what does not help is that fact that Christianiahavn is a very expensive area and Christiana sits of valuable real estate!!!! Currently Christiana is gathering money, by way of Cristiania bonds, to try to become the legal owner of this area. As of the end of 2012 they still have a long way to go.
The 'area' / street of the commune that 'specialises' in cannabis is strictly a no photo area for obvious reasons. Also the request is that you do not run - running indicates a raid by the police. 'have fun, no run, no camera'. You can, however, freely take photographs around the rest of the area.
There is a residential area in Cristiania and whilst it is accessible and free to wander around you should remember that this, really, isn't a 'tourist' place - it is peoples homes/lives.
I have mixed feelings on Cristiania. As an area I like it, although I am told that, whilst it is not admitted to, the dealers have a lot of power within the area. Do not be fooled by the facade of some of the ramshackle buildings. If you get a chance to spy into the interiors you will see that these houses are spacious and that the residents have spent a lot of time and money making them into luxurious, modern homes... and that is where I have a bit of a problem with the area - it is elitist in its own way... and can they afford to live in such a way because they do not have to pay mortgages or rent???!!! I have mixed feelings but I do like the area and I like the ideal that it is supposed to stand for and perhaps once did!
Some great eateries can be found here - cheap and informal.
Some incredible buildings, sculptures /art work and graffiti too.
Visiting Christiania was an interesting –let’s say alternative- experience. Christiania is a small neighborhood in Christianhavn with about 900 residents that is a small commune that have their own laws but it’s all this about tolerance of cannabis that bring here many weird people around and many many tourists. What tourists don’t know is that the main street is a strictly no photo area, it’s a pity for your VT pages but the people that are in “business” wont hesitate to break your camera if you don’t respect the “law”.
The commune created in 1971 when some people took over an area of a deserted military barracks(probably an old American base). It was an interesting social experiment with some local laws that differ from the normal laws of the country. Things are a bit different after 2004 when police started to make unexpected onslaughts about drugs, according to the locals the authorities just want to take back this land, don’t forget that it’s an area right next to the city center and they expect to get a lot of money from real estate business.
Anyway, we didn’t really spend much time in the main street where you can find a lot of café, small eateries, people that sell handcrafts etc. We walked further inside, around the park, we met and talked with some locals and we took a lot of pictures at the lake (pics 4-5). There are also numerous graffiti here and there, some of them are not only nice but also smart…
There’s no entrance fee to enter the district. By the way most of the café here have lower prices.
The autonomous district of Christiania is just the kind of place I would have wanted to live as an idealistic teenager. It's entirely self-run and self-regulated. Much to the annoyance of the Danish government. This unusual state of affairs leads Christiania to be one hell of an unusual place. The population on any given day seems to consist of:
*Earnest anarchist/co-operative types, working hard to keep the place functioning, or run a business.
*Hooded toughs going to score drugs.
None of these groups seem at ease with the other. But somehow the place seems to work.
There's been a lot of recent efforts to shut the place down. It's never been popular with the authorities since the founders usurped local land laws to squat in former army barracks on the edge of the Christianshavn district. What was an annoyance then, became a real problem later as lax self-regulation within Christiania allowed armed drug pushing gangs into the once liberal, peace-loving community. This lead to shootings, and even a grenade attack. The modern rise in property values has also led the government to eye the land greedily.
It's a strange, but very interesting place, and definitely something any visitor to Denmark should see. Don't worry about the violence. It's not any worse than most cities, and as long as you aren't selling drugs you probably won't be affected. Just remember not to take photographs, or you might get angry locals come to tell you off. There are signs everywhere, so you have no excuse.
Freetown Hippie Community
Christiania is a small area in Copenhagen that was described on the bus tour as a kind of "hippie-free-love area" where people smoked marijuana in defiance of the laws of Denmark. We passed it on the Green Route of the hop on hop off bus. Originally the area was founded by squatters in a former military area in the early 70s. From an official point of view, Christiania is regarded as a large commune. Its cannabis trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004.
We didn't actually visit the area. This is what the Wikipedia article says
After the military moved out, the area was only guarded by a few watchmen and there was sporadic trespassing of homeless people using the empty buildings. On 4 September, 1971, inhabitants of the surrounding neighbourhood broke down the fence to take over parts of the unused area as a playground for their children.
Although the takeover was not necessarily organized in the beginning, some claim this happened as a protest against the Danish government. At the time there was a lack of affordable housing in Copenhagen.
On 26 September, 1971, Christiania was declared open by Jacob Ludvigsen, a well-known provo (ironically, the provo movement was founded in 1965 by an anti-smoking activist, Robert Jasper Grootveld) and journalist who published a magazine called Hovedbladet ('The main paper'), which was intended for and successfully distributed to mostly young people. ...
His article (translated) said:
"Christiania is the land of the settlers. It is the so far biggest opportunity to build up a society from scratch - while nevertheless still incorporating the remaining constructions. Own electricity plant, a bath-house, a giant athletics building, where all the seekers of peace could have their grand meditation - and yoga center. Halls where theater groups can feel at home. Buildings for the stoners who are too paranoid and weak to participate in the race...Yes for those who feel the beating of the pioneer heart there can be no doubt as to the purpose of Christiania. It ıs the part of the city which has been kept secret to us - but no more"
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- Historical Travel
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1. Entrance to Christiania
The shortest way to Operaen by bicycle is along the street called Princessegade, which takes you right past the entrance to Christiania, a "free community" with an alternative lifestyle which has been in existence since 1971 and is still there, despite occasional threats by the Danish government to close it down.
One of the innovative things about the Freetown of Christiania was that from the very beginning it was declared to be a car-free town, so one of the first companies started there was Christiania Smedie (The Forge of Christiania), which produced over ten thousand bicycle trailers in the 1970s and 80s. In the middle of the 1980s Lars Engström from Christiania Smedie produced the first "Christiania Bike" (second photo) which was such a great success that the workshop at Christiania Smedie soon turned out to be much too small for the production. So in 1989 they found a suitable place on the island Bornholm, and moved the production of bikes and trailers to that location.
But you can still buy a Christiania Bike in Christiania, or have yours repaired there.
A different experience
Visit this are for a different experience of Copenhagen. Christiana residents live practically free - no taxes. Cannabis is tolerated in this area. Please note NO PHOTOGRAPHS are to be taken in Christiana - there are clear signs. This part of the city feels like a different world and is very unique.
Free State of Christiania
I paid a visit to the Free State of Christiania during a trip to Copenhagen in August 2007.
This curious settlement, populated by a community who are seeking a lifestyle away from the rat race of the modern world, is located in the Christianshavn area of the city on a former army barracks.
The community began in the early 1970s when settlers took over the land after it had been vacated by the Danish army, and it has been the subject of controversy on numerous occasions since.
Much of this controversy relates to the sale and use of hard drugs. In the past, drugs have led to numerous deaths in Christiania, police invasions and wars between rival drug gangs, including a murder as recently as 2005. This took place on the unfortunately named main street "Pushers Street".
Truth be told, I felt a little uneasy walking through the streets of Christiania. Partly this was due to my preconceptions, having read the horror stories before my visit, and partly it was due to the presence of so many "alternate" looking characters. I'm sure most of them were harmless enough and my prejudices were showing themselves.
I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression of Christiania. The "city" displays many signs discouraging the use of hard drugs and it houses a rather diverse community. There are restaurants, cafes, shops, live music venues, a school, and childrens' play areas. There were many "conventional" people to be seen on Christiania's streets - people in suits, groups of teenage friends, families pushing their toddlers around in prams.
But, for whatever reason, I couldn't shake that uneasy feeling off. Maybe it was the prominent signs banning photography on Pushers Street, maybe it was the sight of groups of rather rough looking, heavily tattooed men drinking beer on the streets, perhaps it was the graffiti covered, run down buildings...
Christiania is unlike anywhere else I've ever visited. It is a unique community and is well worth a visit, even if only for voyeuristic purposes.
Climb the tower of the Church of our Saviour
Everyone visits Christiana out of curiousity. Its an odd place and not one I would like to hang around in.
It does have a church with a fairytale golden spire. This is the Church of our Saviour and if you enter Christiana you can't fail to see it. You can purchase a ticket and climb up the tower and its worth it to see the view over the harbour and old Copenhagen.
Forget the dope!
I have seen Christiania grow from a sociology experiment to a mere tourist attraction. My best friend moved there, when we were 9, and I spent the next 6 years getting to know a very different Christiania than you find today.
Back then, if you found an empty house, you painted the word Optaget (Taken) on the door, and moved in. Later came the Christiania counsil, and the “rainbow-army” – no connection to either Greenpeace, nor the gay community – each colour symbolizing a task or duty, that had to be done. Wastedisposal, water/power, food, public relations etc. All inhabitants pay rent, which pays for the maintenance of the area.
Houses were called “The dog House”, “The dolls house”, “Commandeur’s house”, “The Dandelion”, “Kid-Power”, “Chalk house”, “Castle of air”, “The factory”, “The Gunpowder house”, and “The Arc of Peace”.
They already sold hash openly back then – one or two people would sit at a café with a 10 x 15 cm flat chunk of it, breaking off bits and weighing them, as they sold them.
I remember my summers at Christiania as seemingly endless – we canooed and swam in the mote, jumped from the broken bridge, rode horses without saddles, ate organic vegetarian food and cakes, and lived fantastic adventures on the old fortifications.
Later came “Pusherstreet” – to me it was a sore contrast to the rest of the area, betraying the basic idea of the real Christiania: openness, room for everyone, hollow materialistic values to be left at the door.
The harsh reality of “Pusherstreet” is a violent mistrust of all, money being the only thing they trust. I was glad to see it go.
The government talks of “normalizing” Christiania – meaning the area has to live by the rules of the society, they have so clearly lived without for 36 years. That would mean dissolving the community of Christiania.
But in effect the area has moved so far from it’s original values, that “normalizing” it is only a matter of allowing houses to be owned, not rented. The rest has already been let in the backdoor. So sad.
We took the bus 2A to Christianshavn, getting off at Torvegade and walking the rest of the way to the former military barracks, now Christiania Freetown. I had wanted to visit for many years and this really was a highlight of this trip.
The history of the 30 years of Christiania is well documented and it is advisable to read a little about it before visiting - if you have some understanding of the background to this style of living you will definitely have a more enjoyable time there.
We visited on a quiet mid-week morning. The Spanish guy in the cafe had been up all night and hadn't yet gone to bed. We asked for coffee and cake if he had any... he asked what kind we would like, then disappeared for about 15 mins while he searched the neighbourhood for anyone selling cake. He then came back and was delighted to serve it to us. We shared our table with a resident having a beer and rolling his first joint of the morning.
So we proceeded to wander and explore and found that the area is vast, 85 acres - from the "city centre" of Pusher Street (Photography forbidden) to the beautiful green expanses beyond where the 1,000 tax-paying residents live as harmoniously as possible with the environment - there are no motor vehicles here, and also no street lighting.
Other rules include:
No hard drugs
No weapons or violence
No Rocker badges
One distinct *con* to this place was the HUGE dogs who seem to be allowed to wander freely without control. None appeared to be aggressive but there was dog mess everywhere. If you don't like dogs then think twice about visiting.
Walk around Christiania
This alternative enclave can be a nice place to just get away and experience a different side of Copenhagen. Squaters, artists, and budget travellers camp out here by the water. While Pusher Street used to be the 'legal' location for drug purchasing, police has since cracked down on this.
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