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Christiana - The free city
This area was one army barracks before the soldiers moved out in 1971 & it became home to young & homeless people. Declared a "free city" in September 1971, the residents have a community spirit when it comes to living & matters of importance. A problem created by allowing this free soceity is that it became a haven for petty criminals.
However many people support the good works done in Christiana, for example they throw a big free Christmas dinner for those who are homeless at Christmas when the city administration declined to do so - Anyone can go & according to Raz is quite an amazing experience. They have also been involved in weaning heroin addicts off their habits
There is roughly 1000 people living there in often basic housing paying a minimal DKK400 p/m to the government which includes water & electricity basics. There has to be feelings of resentment from those that are required to work hard to pay for rent in Copenhagen & cannot afford a house whilst Christiana residents live practically free.
Cannabis is tolerated by the government in Christiana & you may be quietly asked if you are interested but they are not blatant in what was formerly known as "Pusher Street"
Do walk around the area & see the artworks on the walls, crafts shops & perhaps stay for some food & beer, it is cheaper here as there is no tax to pay
There are guided tours which take 2 hours and are conducted by local residents daily 12pm - 3pm on the hour for DKK 30
I was fassinated walking around - thanks to Allan we saw a good deal of the town & learnt the background info
Please note NO PHOTOGRAPHS are to be taken in Christiana or you may have your camera confiscated there is a sign. I sneaked a few pics around the outskirts
Free city of Christiania
Officially recognised as a legal part of Copenhagen in 1986, this part of the city started out as a camp of hippy squatters. It is now a colourful community, with shops, restaurants, a theatre and public toilets!
There are a wide variety of buildings in Christiania, some of them built from scratch with recycled materials. Others existed on the site, next to Copenhagens old ramparts, for many decades as warehouses or homes.
Christiania has a strong social conscience - they hosted the Danish gathering of the European Social Forum this year. Apparently every Christmas the residents also provide meals for the city's homeless.
Christiania is within the limits of Copenhagen's City-Bike network, so pedal across the harbour from the city centre and take some time to explore. The community seems to be the origin of many of the wierd and wonderful customised bicycles that you see around the city.
Nearby, in Christianshavn is The Church of Our Saviour, with the gold spiral tower, which is possible to climb up with views of Copenhagen.
- Theater Travel
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.
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
"The freeways are jammed man!" Woodstock lives.
A bunch of hippies took-over an abandoned military barracks back in the 70's and created the "Free State of Christiania."
It's a laid-back, self-governed community were soft drugs are not legal but "allowed" The week before I was there apparently the booths that sold the herbal varities on the main street called "Pusher Street" were closed down. You can still find what you're looking for inside some of the bars/cafes.
There is an outdoor stage where live music is played and you can get a bottle of Carlsberg for around 12 kroner. Go, sit down, listen to some tunes an just chill...
No pictures are allowed in Christiania, so I took this shot of one of their bikes in Copanhagen.
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.
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
The formerly barracks area Christiania was occupied by all kind of alternative people in September 1971. Nowadays it is a kind of anarchic community within Copenhagen, where about 800 alternative people live. They arrange their togetherness by self-appointed authorities with their own rules. Christiania has many green spots and unique alternative houses. Unfortunately, taking photos is prohibited in the area.
- Budget Travel
Christiania; See it before it dissapears.
It's not what it used to be and never will be again. But go have a look anyway. Some of the houses are interesting and its story is fun to hear from a local perspective. Grab a beer from the bar and sit out in the sun. Don't take the place too seriously as most people do, just enjoy your time there.
Your not supposed to take pictures, but your not supposed to sell drugs either! I took this photo, not out of disrespect but in support of what they stand for, the freedom to do as they please!
I hadn't been here since childhood so it was interesting to come back during a VT meeting and see how it had changed. Christiania is a very unusual place where citizens who wanted an alternative life to the usual consumer society started off by occupying the area when it was no longer in use by the navy. This became a huge success and it grew and grew with permission by the authorities who didn't know what else to do. Today, the authorities have adapted a hardened attitude as the main street in the area became known as Pusher Street due to all the open drug dealing. It went so far that tourists couldn't take pictures without risking trouble because the people involved didn't want to end up on film. Having said that, they don't want you to take photos of much in general here, since they don't want to feel like animals in the zoo. Instead, you can come here to escape from the "musts" of ordinary life and enjoy great street food or the cheap and international food of the famous Spiseloppen. There are also music arrangements and a great tolerance for odd people here. Just don't be afraid of dogs - they wander about everywhere here amongst the colourful and often home built houses and cottages.
- Arts and Culture
Christiania has gone from being an experimental hippy village to being one of Copenhagen's main tourist attractions-and yet completely managed to retain its uniqueness. Soft drugs are allowed here and sold openly, and this is probably what most tourists come to see. If you are in to weed or hash you will find a great variety here, but if you're not, go anyway! There are plenty of interesting stores selling everything from hippy clothes to organic food, and cute cafes where you can relax with a beer and a game of backgammon. The area is actually quite large, and there are some nice scenic places by the lake where you can enjoy a picnic. Loppen is a concert hall where underground music used to be prevalent, but where you can now find anything from the biggest rap artists to the most obscure punk bands. You never know how long Christiania will be around for, as the government has threatened to close it down ever since the area was seized (it was originally used by the army), so go while it's still there, because it is definitely a unique experience. You can also get guided tours, ask at Infohuset. Don't take pictures near pusher street and don't bring any dogs home with you-they do have owners.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
In 1971 a group of hippies took to living in the barracks of Badmandsstraede, on the island of Amager in Copenhagen, they formed the free town called Christiania.
It practices an alternative way of living with a liberal view on drugs. It has a population of probably around 1000 people. The Danish Parliment legalized the city in 1989, this meant the hippies were exempt from the laws on heritage and environmental conservation. The society rules itself in it's car free zone. They pay just 215 Euro per person for all services provided such as electric, heating, land tax, child care centre etc.
The flag of the free town shows three yellow discs representing the three "i"'s in the name 'Christiania'.
- Road Trip
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.
Copenhagen's Alternative Neighbourhood
The "free state" of Christiania has existed in Copenhagen since 1971 and despite several clashes with the police and other authorities over the years it is still going strong.
The entrance is on Prinsessegade and when you leave the street it does feel like stepping into a different world. Photography is unofficialy forbidden especially around Pusher Street.
As you leave Christiania by the main entrance there is an interesting sign saying "You are now entering the EU".
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.
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