There is an unusual “state within the state” at the heart of the Danish capital Copenhagen – Freetown or Christiania. This unique community lives by its own laws. Christiania has its own currency, flag, post office, restaurants and shopping. A plaque with the inscription hangs at the entrance: “You are leaving the European Union now”. And it means that you enter some other, free and unusual territory.
The history of Christiania is like a fairy tale in some way. “Freetown” (as residents of the city call this place) was originally just an abandoned military base, which was settled illegally by hippies in 1971. The first inhabitants were anarchists, but such an approach gave way to self-government later. Locals claim that “the purpose of Christianity is creation of a self-governing society in which each person is responsible for the welfare of the whole community.” The Danish government has tried to eliminate the settlement for several times, but all attempts were unsuccessful.
Freetown Christiania offers a chance to see what life looks like under self-governance, and without private property. Currently about 1 000 people live in the community, and thousands of tourists come every year to experience its unique culture (it is the second most popular tourist site in Copenhagen, right after nearby Tivoli Gardens). There are a lot of bright and ordinary buildings on Christiania, in all sorts of imaginative shapes, sizes and colors – from old army buildings dating back to the by-gone barrack days, to elaborate self-build homes. The best way to see them is just walking around sucking in the atmosphere. All the buildings have their own unique story to tell – if you’re friendly, open minded, a bit lucky – and outside the main tourist season, you can sometimes get locals to tell you the stories of their particular house. Christiania is a mix of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues, cheap and organic eateries, and beautiful nature. It is still a society within a society, for an example you cannot buy a house in Christiania. You have to apply for it, and if successful, it is given to you. Locals live in Christiana’s Common Law: no fighting, no weapons, no stolen goods, no hard drugs.
For your own safety, visitors are advised not to film or photograph in Christiania, especially not in the area in and around Pusher Street (the place where anybody can buy marijuana (illegal in the rest of Denmark)). At the entrance you will find signs indicating ‘do’s and don’ts’ in the area. We advise you to take them seriously and follow them for your safety.
In Christiania, cannabis shops operate 24 hours a day and sell 30–40 types of hashish. Most of the food you’ll find in Christiania is organic and high quality.
In August 5, 2011 Christiania has received a semi-autonomous status from the authorities. According to the new law, residents of Christiania have the opportunity to buy some land and the rest of the ground state will rent.
This place is so bright and extraordinary, sometimes shocked and surprised, and it is not suitable for some people living, but it worth seeing – no doubts.