Christiania was created because of the lack of housing in Denmark in the late 60’s. Initially it was a military area, but in 1969 it had been abandoned. Between the years of 1969 and 1971, the tall fence surrounding the area was continuously broken into by hippies and squatters, who soon started to inhabit the empty military buildings. Around this time, an alternative newspaper published an article with a headline saying “Emigrate with bus number 8” and the article described the empty buildings, and suggested ideas for use- not least for living-space for the great number of young people that could not find anyhwere to live at the time. The result was a massive immigration of people who wanted to create another life based on communal living and freedom, and thus Christiania was born.
People from all walks of life come to visit Christiania, to have a break from the usual rush of the big-city and the sometimes cold lifestyle of the north. Immigrants, pensioners, single mothers, homeless and unemployed people all come here for a breather; street people and travellers, all find a sanctuary in Christiania. They come here to enjoy the peaceful, natural and wild environment, far from the structure of Northern European society, with its magical mixture of village and city life. Christiania is creative; filled with art, colours and grafitti- and welcomes everyone.
Christiania is probably most famous for its liberal view on cannabis-smoking. There are a few “laws” to Christiania which include no hard drugs and no weapons; but cannabis is used and sold openly everywhere. The people who founded Christiania was for the legalisation of cannabis, and this continues to be part of one of the main structures. At one point they tried; then, however, real problems started in Copenhagen, as the cannabis-business moved into the streets, was taken over by gangs, and became a very violent affair. Still, police come to Christiania several times a week, but the people who are selling cannabis around Pusher Street (the main cannabis-market) all know about this, and they pack up their things and run quickly.
The Christianites themselves live under a constant threat of possibly becoming homeless, should the government make reality of their plans to build luxury-apartments on the Christiania grounds. A young man called Thomas, who lived in Christiania for the past seven years, is a spokesman for the Christiania board. He says that he is not worried about this actually happening. “There are too many people who would protest, who would protect and help us. There would be riots on the streets of Copenhagen- and the government knows this.”
christiania, street love
christiana, parking spot..
christiana, house on the ice…
christiana, house on the ice…
“My first visit to Christiania was at the age of 16. I went with my best friend; we had heard of this place and were really excited to see and experience it. It was the middle of summer, and it was very, very hot. Everything was green and lush, and not many people were out on the streets- I guess they were all at the beach. We took the famous bus number 8 from central Copenhagen, and we were not really sure where to get off- and we were definitely too scared to ask anyone for directions. We did not want people to know what naughtiness we were about to do. Eventually we did get there, and we were amazed at what we saw. This other world opened up in front of us; scary in many ways, with all the men and boys standing around in Pusher Street, and really scary because of all the big dogs roaming around. At the same time, we felt happy, welcome- it was so relaxed, so different, such a chilled-out vibe. We went to one of the stalls and bought a minimal amount of weed- the smoking was our main objective for coming here- and then we sneaked away from the main , hid in the bushes, sat in the grass, and tried to roll a joint in the gentle summer-breeze. We felt as if we were doing something forbidden and were shocked when a black man with dreads walked past us, wearing round, pink sunglasses and a huge, bright smile, saying ´girls, no need to be ashamed, no need to hide! just be free and happy, you are allowed!´We looked at each other with huge, relieved smiles, and until this day, we’ll never forget the feeling of freedom this man with the incredible smile gave us. How different from our normal life!
Since this day, I have continued coming to Christiania year after year. Mostly I go in the summer, to chill out in the beergarden (and drink beer less than half the price of most places in Scandinavia!) and to get a break from the normal, hectic, busy and structured life of northern Europe. I don’t come for the smoking anymore- and actually, since I stopped coming simply for the reason to get stoned, I started discovering the beauty of this place. The creativity, the colours, the relaxed vibe- and just the general feeling of freedom, and being allowed. I’ve had some amazing food here- organic, vegetarian meals- and I’ve seen amazing art by the Tibetan population living here. I bring my bicycle, and cycle around the lake- I marvel at the weird and amazing houses and I feel alive, free, and refreshed after leaving the freetown and entering the EU again- where things are ridiculously priced, and people are always in a rush to get to wherever.”
more from linda on her blog:
Everybody said ‘Christiana’ is a cool place,
And still I was quite surprised to walk into it..
In the middle of what feels like a normal northern European town just across an almost hidden door, there is a wild imagination town alive and inspiring.
Like the bubble we create in our homes to have the feeling of freedom,
Christiana is a very big bubble, in the middle of life, creative and open, and festival party like organic happening.
I enjoyed it a lot, even though I was not really allowed to take pictures..
What you see is mostly the result of my Israeli manners…
I will definitely be back pronto in Christiana.