Discover Copenhagen’s alternative reality
When you think of Copenhagen, you probably think of an orderly kind of city, a clean and tidy city defined by light and water, a city that plays by the rules. However, there is one part of the capital of Denmark that absolutely refuses to play by the rules and that is Fristaden Christiania – or Freetown Christiania.
Home to around one thousand people, Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous district within the city of Copenhagen. It is an anarchist community, where the scent of cannabis hangs heavy in the air.
History of Christiania
Christiania was once a military base – Bådsmandsstræde – but the base ceased operations in 1971. At that time, it became a home for squatters – people seeking to make the most of the abandoned buildings by turning them into free housing. The area now formed by Christiana also includes the fortified ramparts of Christianshavn, built in the 17th century. It was at a building on this military base that the Danish government executed twenty-nine World War II war criminals – the concrete foundation and the drain for the blood remain visible.
Founding of the Free State
Once the Danish military had abandoned the Bådsmandsstræde base, local people began to move in – driven in part by a lack of affordable housing in the area. It was the magazine Hovedbladet that began to talk about Christiania as a free town, and journalist Jacob Ludvigsen was one of the leading voices who developed Christiania’s mission statement in 1971.
Over the years there have been tensions between the city administration and the residents of Christiania, but today there seems to be general acceptance that Christiania is a unique part of the fabric of Copenhagen. Christiania today is an environmentally aware and car-free community. It is a mix of housing, workshops, art galleries, music venues, and cafes that specialize in organic food. You can’t buy a house in Christiania, you have to apply for it – if your application is successful, then it is given to you.
The Christiania community welcomes visitors. There are guided tours offered by the residents, or you can just wander through on your own accord. However it is a rule of the community that visitors are not allowed to take photographs. Cannabis still forms part of the community’s lifestyle, but in Denmark it is illegal to supply cannabis to others.
One of the most popular businesses operating within Christiania is the Christiania Rent a Bike. This is a bike rental and bike shop – famous for inventing the cargo bike which is popular with Christiania residents. The bike shop is a good starting point for your Christiania adventure – pick up a hire bike and then explore the extensive grounds controlled by the Christiania community.
Accommodation in Copenhagen
While there are not hotels available within the Christiania community itself, there are a huge range of accommodation options in Copenhagen. Whether your budget stretches to high-end luxury or boutique hotels, or if you would prefer a private rental – if you’re looking for Copenhagen apartments holiday options then a good starting point is to know which part of the city that you would prefer to be based in.