Christiania

Christiania information

Copenhagen , Denmark
Address
Street Prinsessegade
More information
www.christiania.org
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Lonely Planet review

In 1971 an abandoned 41-hectare military camp on the eastern side of Christianshavn was taken over by squatters who proclaimed it the ‘free state’ of Christiania, subject to their own laws. The police tried to clear the area but it was the height of the hippie revolution and an increasing number of alternative folk from throughout Denmark continued to pour in, attracted by the concept of communal living and the prospect of reclaiming military land for peaceful purposes.

Bowing to public pressure, the government allowed the community to continue as a social experiment. About 1000 people settled into Christiania, turning the old barracks into schools and housing, and starting their own collective businesses, workshops and recycling programmes.

Christiania residents, self-governing, ecology-oriented and generally tolerant, did, in time, find it necessary to modify their free-law/anything goes approach. A new policy was established that outlawed hard drugs, and the heroin and cocaine pushers were expelled, although for many years a blind eye was turned to the sale of marijuana and hash on ‘Pusher Street’.

The sheer size and incredible location of the land means that the pressure for the government to take back the space it’s been ‘lending’ to the Christiania locals for the last 30-odd years has greatly increased. In a real estate deal made with the government in April 2011, Christiania’s residents have until 2018 to officially ‘buy’ the land...for a sobering 76 million kroner. Needless to say, this decade will be a challenging one for the neighbourhood, whose residents plan on raising the funds through bank loans and events.

Despite the pressure, Christiania hasn’t lost its free-spirited soul, and visitors are welcome to stroll or cycle through to share the love. The commune itself has a small market, a couple of craft shops and a few eateries; the open sale of soft drugs is now banned. For a truly rewarding experience, however, explore the commune’s quieter parts, where rambling paths lead past DIY abodes and cosy little gardens.

The main entrance into Christiania is on Prinsessegade, 200m northeast of its intersection with Bådsmandsstræde. You can take a guided tour of Christiania. Meet just inside the main entrance. There’s a Pusher Street Infocaféen of sorts, where you can pick up the useful Christiania Guide . You’ll find the office just next to the Oasen cafe.