In 1971 an abandoned military area in the borough of Christianshavn, in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, was taken over by squatters, and converted into a “free city” — a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood run by their own laws independent of the government. The concept of collective ownership and communal living, but mostly free trading of cannabis, attracted hordes of hippies who took up permanent residence in this 34-hectare area. Over the years, “Freetown Christiania” became a permanent feature of the city where almost anything went, until 2004 when authorities cracked down on the drug trade. Christiania survived and is still a vibrant hub in the city with a hotch-potch of warehouses, huts and houses, colorful murals and outdoor sculptures. About a thousand people live here permanently.
The area of Christiania originally consisted of military barracks. After the military moved out, a group of hippies and squatters moved in and created a small community with idiosyncratic architectures placed alongside restored shacks. The residents declared the area free from the municipality, vowed not to pay taxes, created its own flag and set up bars, cafés, grocery shops, museum, art galleries, and music venues. The town’s biggest attraction is Pusher Street, where hash and marijuana are sold openly from permanent stands. The stands were evicted in 2004 but is said to have returned.
The commune today is partially self-governing, and its members have started paying taxes to the state, but it still has its own rules such as no cars, no stealing, no guns, no bullet-proof vests, and no hard drugs.
Christiania is considered to be the fourth largest tourist attractions in Copenhagen, with half a million visitors annually. Visitors are welcome to stroll around Christiania and to eat and drink in the area’s cafés, restaurants and bars. There are a number of live music and other outdoor events, meditation centers and a couple of nightclubs to enjoy.
The infamous Pusher Street. Cameras are not allowed here. Photo credit
A hash dealer in Pusher Street. Photo credit
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