"You Cannot Kill Us!"
One must see this unique attraction which was highly recommended to us by the concierge of the Copenhagen Marriott where we were staying before our disembarkation on our cruise through the Fjords of Norway (which I will be sharing in forthcoming posts). It is known as the quaint and secluded town of Christiania aka “Freetown Christiania”.
Christiania, located in a small area of Copenhagen, Denmark, was established and declared an “Anarchist Community” in 1971.
Their National anthem, “I kan ikke slå os ihjel when translated to English means “You cannot kill us”.
They even fly their own flag (right) albeit they continue to use the Danish Krone as their currency.
Christiania is a quasi self-proclaimed and autonomous neighborhood which at the last census consisted of about 850 full-time residents. It’s comprised of approximately 84 acres in the Borough of "Christianshavn" which is located in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.
Local Copenhagen authorities and residents consider Christiania a large commune. However, it has a rather unique status inasmuch as its regulated by the
“Christiania Law of 1989”.
This law uniquely and exclusively takes away much of the supervision of the area from the local municipality of Copenhagen and transfers it to the state.
The Christiania Borough has been the subject of controversy since it was created and was declared a "squatted military area" in 1971.
It was interesting to note that the very pervasive and prolific Marijuana trade has been tolerated by local governments over the years. It was renowned for its infamous “Pusher Street” where hash and pot were sold openly from permanent kiosks until 2004.
Although there are still certain laws on the books that don’t necessarily make dealing in "Mary Jane" legal Christiania is much like Amsterdam in its abundance and open and accepted utilization.
It also seems to be tolerated and local law enforcement tends to look the other way as Christiania has very strong rules and enforcement against the much stronger drugs i.e. Meth, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Heroin, etc.
When the military moved out, the area of Christiania was lightly patrolled and controlled allowing many homeless people (No, she's not homeless. That's Janis who just happened to be reluctanly in the way when I snuck this shot) to trespass and/or otherwise squat in many of the abandoned military buildings.
Because there was a lack of affordable housing this was considered a form of protest towards the government of Denmark, however, was not considered an invasion.
Christiania subsequently became known as “the land of the settlers” and allowed those who settled it a huge opportunity to create its own society. It has its own electrical power grid and basic sewage and water infrastructure.
Christiania is known for its self realization, meditation - and yoga centers. It even has halls, theater and music groups. Many of the "perpetually stoned" who are too paranoid and weak to participate in the real world seek their peace, love and happiness there.
Kinda reminds me a little of my home town, the very quaint and funky little last bastion of true surf towns.........Leucadia.
It's also known for it's very psychedelic murals and wall paintings which were quite interesting to us in a very confusing sorta way but nonetheless put us in a comfort zone making us feel a little more at home.
The whole premise of Christiania has been to re-create and maintain a type of self-governing society where individuals may hold themselves responsible and accountable for the overall well being of their own community.
However, the real spirit of Christiania has morphed into sort of a hippie/squatter community of collectivism and its own form of anarchy.
We were surprised to learn that Christiania was the fourth most popular tourist attraction in Copenhagen with over 500,000 tourists visiting every year.
Interestingly, however, many visitors, don’t really get the full benefit of exploring Christiania because they cannot find their way around the community and the locals are redicent to volunteer much if any information about what lurks beyond the tiny city streets.
In fact I had to sneak these photos because the locals freak out and start yelling at the tourists they catch trying to take photos.
I actually saw a couple of visitors get harshly and aggressively confronted and criticized and forced to erase their photos.
Fortunately, Janis and I accidentally walked in through the backside of the community and had an opportunity to stroll their beautiful and wooded country trails to view some of their very interesting architecture, building and housing variations.
Where real estate really started to come into play in all of this was that in January 2006, the government proposed that Christiania would be turned into a mixed alternative community and residential area adding condominiums for 400 new residents.
Current residents, then paying DKK 1450 (USD 250) per month, would be allowed to remain but would need to begin paying normal rent for the facilities, albeit below market rent levels.
Christiania subsequently rejected this scenario,
fearing that "freetown" would turn into a normal Copenhagen neighborhood.
In particular, the concept of privately owned dwellings was claimed to be incompatible with Christiania's "collective form of ownership".
We slowly weaved our way all around this very interesting community before entering what is considered the main part of their little empire.
Residents of Christiania have developed their own set of rules which are largely independent of the Danish government. Some of these rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs and bikers' colors.
Fortunately law enforcement seemed to respect and thus tends to tolerate the more mild use and trade of cannabis and Hash.
We were also impressed with the absence of automobiles and motorcycles which are outlawed and must be parked in the city streets of Copenhagen. This is truly a pedestrian community through and through.
All in all there is no doubt that “Freetown Christiania” was indeed a very interesting and worthwhile part of our visit to Copenhagen. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wishes to put Scandinavia on their bucket list.