“Lev livet kunstnerisk! Kun døde fisk flyder med strømmen.” (“Live life artistically! Only dead fish follow the current.”)
Copenhagen is the capital of cool. The city has become a spot of pilgrimage for foodies around the world, hoping to sink their teeth into the acclaimed fare the Danish capital has become renowned for offering. Though many guides these days focus on the food, and for good reason, it is the freedom of Copenhagen that truly separates it from the pack. Freetown Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous area in Copenhagen, part-commune, part-socialist utopia, and a whole lot of fun.
History of Freetown
In September 1971, a group of locals took over the abandoned military barracks in Copenhagen, declaring the area a military-free zone. The goal was to create a self-sustaining society in which everything from farming to trade was a community endeavor. While today it isn’t exactly the utopia they imagined, a visit to this unique neighborhood is guaranteed to be unlike any place you have ever seen before.
Things to See
The best way to see Christiania is by joining an organized walking or cycling tour, many of which are lead by guides who actually live in the neighborhood. Look into Copenhagen hotels nearby, and meet your guide at the entry gate for a day of unique sightseeing.
Pusher Street is the most famous attraction in Christiania, but don’t expect it to be the prettiest. Imagine a street market surrounded by colorful murals, with less souvenirs and more questionable goods. Police have been cracking down on the soft drugs which are often sold here, and while some tourists find the street less than charming, it is a unique window into the community.
You can’t totally ignore the food revolution in Copenhagen, and luckily Christiania delivers. Stop for lunch at Spiseloppen, a laid-back restaurant in a renovated attic that is consistently ranked as one of the city’s best.
The Green Hall (Den Grønne Hal)
If you are interested in seeing how this unique community works together as a unit, look no further than the Green Hall. The hall is a recycling center where people can pick up lumber and other used goods to repurpose. It also acts as a community center and concert hall.
Rules to Follow
A community like Christiania is not possible without a set of rules that all residents and visitors must abide by. If you plan on visiting the township during your trip to Copenhagen, be sure to follow these guidelines, or you may risk being thrown out. The following rules are independent of the Danish government, but are strictly enforced.
No photography (This is taken very seriously)
No hard drugs
No bikers’ colors (Common within motorcycle gangs)
No bulletproof vests
For most tourists, the rules may seem silly, but in Christiania they are a way of life. Respect the rules of the community, and locals will be more than happy to share their unique way of life with you.