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Before you get too dizzy by all the sweet fumes of marijuana wafting through Christiania, you do well to leave Pusher Street and explore more of the Free State. Granted, it's Pusher Street that Christiania is mostly famous for, but it's the rest of the area that makes this place a really special place. I had expected to have a look at the drug dealing and some of the graffiti-laden houses before leaving Christiania again, but we eventually spent more than two hours here. There's plenty to see, and we only scratched the surface.
Upon arrival from Bådsmandsstræde, i.e. the southwest, the first thing you'll come across is a brightly painted house with some fantasy creatures. It's just next door to a small archway bearing the phrase "Beware - Here be dragons!". We didn't see any dragons, but shortly after the gate came across huge monsters made from rusty metal bars and carrying strange weapons.
We took our time to stroll through the smaller alleys of Christiania, often unexpectedly encountering wild gardens in full bloom, cute cottages with self-made pieces of art, some relaxed old hippies chatting in the shade, cats basking in the sun, a collection of teddy bears and other toys half rotten in the damp climate on the river, a beach with a swimming platform, a comfortable swing and a lot more. Not only are these off-the-beaten-path places much more beautiful than Pusher Street and its immediate vicinity, but they were also more or less tourist-free.
Two places are particularly worth seeing. First, there's the home of Denmark's most popular special bike, the Christianiabike. Comparable to the Dutch bakfiets, you can see Christianiabikes everywhere in Denmark. Their loading space is big enough for two or three small children and some shopping, but you can see them transporting everything from dogs to a basketful of fruit. Christianiabike's story is one of the Free State's success stories. In 1984, the first bike of this kind was produced at the Christiania Smedie (Christiania Smithy). The inventor needed a good vehicle to transport his kids - and designed the first Christianiabike. Nowadays, there's only a service centre left in Christiania. The bikes are produced on the Danish island of Bornholm.
The second not-to-miss place is Mælkebøtten, in particular the circle of houses surrounding a lovely, well-kept garden with lots of flowers and the charm of an English village. If I were to live in Christiania, this is where I would go. Again, we had the whole place for ourselves - tourists bypassed it as it wasn't so obviously visible.
Even further away from Pusher Street are some of Christiania's nicest gardens with tulips and peonies growing up to 1.5m high. I'm sure that behind the gardens there was much more to see. Christiania is yours to explore - you just have to go further than Pusher Street.
Area: Fabriksområdet is Christiania's main thoroughfare. Lots of nice places are to be found in the further away corners
Telephone: +45 32 95 65 07
- Arts and Culture
Do you remember that old 1990s song by Luniz "I got 5 on it"? Back in the days, I didn't have a clue what it was all about - mind you, I was only 14! -, but now, wiser than during my teenage years, I know that it wasn't the most harmless of songs. In any case, it should be the hymn for Christiania's Pusher Street, probably one of Denmark's most famous streets.
The Free State of Christiania was founded in 1971 by some squatters on the abandoned remains of a military site. The idea was to create a self-governing society, giving everybody as much freedom as possible while demanding responsibility for the society from everybody, too. Many of Christiania's inhabitants had and still have a hippie background, and as drugs were part of the hippie culture, they were and still are an essential part of Christiania. Since 1979 hard drugs have been banned completely from the Free State and its mostly weed that you can get there nowadays. In fact, Christiania is likely to be the only place in Denmark where you can openly purchase weed. Pusher Street is the place to go to, if you are looking for that. It's Christiania's most famous area and definitely attracts most tourists.
Going there is not dangerous, as long as you obey the rule not to take pictures of the drug dealers or people consuming drugs. Both selling and consuming drugs is still illegal in Denmark, and even if it is tolerated in the Free State, it doesn't mean that people will enjoy being photographed with a joint between their lips. On Pusher Street and around you can see many small stalls, almost all of them covered with a military camouflage net. This is meant to be an ironic comment on the Danish government's request to make drug selling less visible. As photographing is not allowed and even moving your hands towards your camera can cause angry looks and comments, we decided to just sit down on a bench and watch the passers-by. An interesting pastime for sure - average-looking people were asking timidly for some weed while dazed regular drug takers were getting there stuff much faster and more self-confidently. We could have watched for a long time, but the constant smell of weed made us feel dazed, too, so we left to explore the area further.
Going hand in hand with the joint-smoking subculture is the graffiti subculture. Consequently, the area around Pusher Street is where you can find Christiania's best graffiti. Flamboyant faces, virulent vortexes, jarring joints - you name it, you can find it here. Other graffiti had a more esoteric touch, showing images of sunsets and the like, and more often than not it was found on the walls of a small hut which itself looked like a hippie's paradise.
While one end of Pusher Street is a large square with some tables for open-air communal joint-smoking, the other end has a few shops, a halfpipe and the "Pusher of the Day" monument where you can have your photo taken in an XXXXL hoodie with some fake drugs in front of you.
So even if you are not into drugs - like us -, Pusher Street is worth a visit. However, it's not the only part of Christiania. Find out more about Christiania's other areas in my second tip.
Address: Pusher Street, 1407 København K
Area: central Christiania - you can access it directly from Prinsessegade which passes Christiania
Telephone: +45 32 95 65 07
- Arts and Culture
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!).
- Budget Travel
- 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.
Directions: located near christianshavn metro station.
- 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
Directions: Just past the Church of Salvation in Christianhavn you will find this interesting place
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.
Directions: We went there by metro, stopping at Christianshavn. We returned back by bus 2A
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.
Directions: From Christianshavn metro, walk down Donnningensgade past the corkscrew spire church. Take a right at the end of the street. The entrance is a couple of hundred meters up on your left.
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"
Directions: Christianshavn is a neighbourhood located on an artificial island
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
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.
Directions: GPS 55°40'24.81" North; 12°35'49.86" East
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.
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.
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.
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.
Directions: Close by the metro station Christianshavn
Website: http://www.christiania.org/Add to your Trip Planner
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.
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