Discover the Freetown Christiania
The Freetown Christiania is a commune with its own rules, is a country of Denmark. This micronation has its own rules and regulations and it’s an interesting place to visit while in Copenhagen. A quick read through trip advisor will give you mix feelings about the town. Some love it, others hate it, so you should see it for yourself and decide.
The buildings around Christiania have a feeling of abandonment and the gardens are full of wild vegetation. You can spot beautiful graffiti on the buildings walls, also some sculptures adorning the streets and buildings.
The most famous cafe in Christiania is the Cafe Nemoland. Through the summer the cafe offers you free concerts every Sunday on their open-air stage. Be warned that the area around the stage and the cafe might get crowded quite quickly.
Along Pusher Street – the main street in the town – you will notice a few stalls on either side of the street with masked men waiting for costumers. Cannabis trade is still illegal in Denmark, but it’s seen as free practice in Christiania in Pushers Street. To avoid being identified by the police, the vendors cover their faces.
One of the rules in Christiania is no photos along the main street and the inhabitants distrust anyone with a camera. So if you are carrying one, make sure to keep it low or even hidden away inside your bag and no one should bother you.
History of The Freetown Christiania
In 1971 a group of hippies created their own community inside an abandoned military barracks, this community had its own set of rules independent from the Danish government. Since its creation Christiania has been in constant conflicts and clashes with the Danish state and the police.
The Freetown Christiania is famous for the open selling of cannabis and hash. The residents of Christiania are in favour to the legalisation of cannabis and you can see many smoking it openly around the town and you can buy it on the main street known as Pushers Street.
Although not everything is allowed in Christiania; hard drugs are forbidden in the Freetown. From 1978 to 1979, ten people died from a drug overdose; four were residents in Christiania. Hard drugs were obviously a problem and an attempt to cooperate with the police was made to try and get rid of the heroin dealers.
“The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the wellbeing of the entire community. Our society is to be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration is to be steadfast in our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted.”
— Christiania Mission Statement
The police focus their efforts on the hash network, leaving the heroin world untouched. Since the residents of Christiania asked the police to only fight the heroin rigs and that didn’t happen, they decided not to cooperate with the police anymore.
Residents patrolled the zones known to have heroin addicts. For 40 days and 40 nights the residents faced the heroin dealers and addicts and gave them an ultimatum: either stop using and dealing hard drugs or leave the Freetown Christiania.
Later in 1984, a biker gang took control in some cannabis market in the town, violence increased in Christiania and many residents felt unsafe and unhappy with it. The community decided to sabotage the actions of the bikers and decided that the bikers have to leave the Freetown.
Christiania’s Common Law
Christiania has a few rules that you should follow in order to be safe walking around the main street and side streets of the town. These rules are enforced by locals and they might be a bit rough when asking you to follow them.
- No Weapons – Since the creation of this commune there was issues with weapons and unfortunate events. To keep the Freetown safe, all weapons are forbidden.
- No Private Cars – taking care of nature is one of Christiania’s priority, that’s why there is a ban on private cars in the town.
- No Hard Drugs – Christiania had some bad times when Hard Drugs were allowed, since then they banned all hard drugs inside the town.
- No Violence – Peace and Love is one of the main philosophies of Christiania, so violence is something that’s forbidden.
- No Bulletproof Clothing – If you are wearing a bulletproof vest, it means that you are either from the police or you plan to cause trouble.
- No Stolen Goods – Stolen goods bring unwanted attention from the police to Christiania, to avoid clashes with the authorities, carrying stolen goods inside Christiania’s ground is forbidden.
- No Bikers Colours – Bikers Colours refer to patches worn on a biker jacket indicating which gang they belong to. Since Christianites had issues with a biker gang, this became a new rule.
There are two more rules shown on the signs outside Christiania, these I couldn’t find any particular explanation for them. The reason I could find for not wanting fireworks or thunder-flashes is because they can scare and cause panic (in a way, they disturb the peace)
- No Fireworks
- No Use of Thunder-flashes
In the main street of Christiania (Pushers Street) and around the Green District there are also three extra rules that you should follow religiously if you want to be safe and have a good time.
- Don’t Run – it causes panic and since what happens in Pushers Street is not legal, you don’t want to make people nervous.
- No Photos – Buying and Selling Hash is still illegal and no one wants to be seen buying/selling illegal substances and be prosecuted with strong proof that they have been doing something wrong.
- Have Fun
Source: Jeleu @Wikipedia
There are also other nine things, which are not rules, but they are encouraged and you might expect while visiting the Freetown Christiania. On a sign next to the rules you can read in black text the words:
“Christiania’s Commitment is to create and sustain a self-governing community, in which everyone is free to develop and express themselves as responsible members of the community”
With this in mind, the sign tells you to:
- Love each other
- Play Music
- Have Babies
- Have a Bonfire
- Go to the toilet
- Free Flowers
and my favourite one
- Feed your turtle
Our Experience in Christiania
After filling our boots in the food street market and since Christiania was just around the corner, we decided to visit this Freetown. We entered the area of Christiania through one of the side entrances and roamed the streets.
In Christiania, we saw all sort of buildings and things to take picture of. We saw a few buildings decorated with graffiti and some very interesting sculptures. We also came across the women blacksmith house which was full of interesting sculptures.
The streets were mostly desert and we didn’t cross paths with many people. When we finally arrived at Nemoland we saw a few people sitting down on benches or on the grass, eating, drinking and smoking while listening to a rock band performing on the open air stage.
This was the Green District; it was so full of life that we stayed there for a while, but rock is not Dorota’s favourite style of music and so we decided to continue exploring the town. Most shops were closed but there were a few sculptures around in the Green District.
I took a picture of one of the sculptures before Dorota pointed out to the big “No Photo” sign that was in front of me, something that I didn’t notice until she pointed it out. Immediately I switched off the camera and carried it by hand.
I did notice two guys close to a stall, one pointed at the camera but the other shook his head and they didn’t tell us to put it away. Clearly, the other guy was happy with the fact that the camera was down and it would be impossible to take any picture of video like that.
Christiania was an interesting place to visit, but it was a shame that so many shops and workshops were closed. Perhaps it was the wrong time of the day to visit, but I imagined a vibrant place full of colours and all sorts of sculptures and people. Instead, the Freetown Christiania felt a bit empty and abandoned.
About Freetown Christiania
The most notable resident of Christiania has to be the singer, songwriter and actor Lukas Graham, born and breed in the Freetown. Most his music videos have parts filmed in the Freetown Christiania.
If you enjoyed reading about Christiania and you are ready to pack your bags, move to Christiania and become the newest resident of this alternative society, it won’t be as easy as that. No one can buy a house in Christiania, instead if you want to become a resident, you need to make a petition. Then, after a resident meeting your request might be granted or not – chances are, if you they don’t know you, they won’t grant you a house.