10 Interesting Facts about the Unique Town of Freetown Christiana in Denmark

Freetown Christiana, Denmark
Photo by Kenji Ross on Flickr

Denmark is known for its independent mindset, creativity and free-spirited nature. Nowhere is this captured more than in Freetown Christiana.

This neighborhood in the middle of Copenhagen is a self-proclaimed autonomous town, free from the rules of Denmark or the EU. Christiana is unlike anywhere else in the world; a sort of hippie commune of about 600 residents, where no one owns any property, violence and guns aren’t allowed, there are no cars, and cannabis is sold freely out of kiosk booths on “Pusher Street.”

It was founded as a separate, self-governed society

Christiana was originally formed in 1971 when a bunch of squatters took over abandoned military barracks. Journalist Jacob Ludvigsen declared the organized community, which set out to build a new society from scratch. “For those who feel the beating of the pioneer heart there can be no doubt as to the purpose of Christiania,” Ludvigsen wrote. “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.”

Photo by Naotake Murayama on Flickr

It has a self-created collective culture

Though somewhat of a social experiment, a collectivist, socialist – perhaps even anarchist – community quickly flourished. An internationally acclaimed theater group, Solvognen, was formed, along with meditation and yoga classes, schools, community gardens and the like. Artists, musicians, students and intellectuals made Christiana home, along with people who were drawn to the sharing economy such as the homeless, unemployed, immigrants, single mothers and others down on their luck.

Photo by blue_quartz on Flickr

It is independent of Danish rule

The people of Christiana declared themselves independent of the Danish government, and formed their own rules. Chief among them were bans on violence, theft, weapons and hard drugs. After questions about ownership and land use with the government, the community created a foundation and officially purchased the land at a below-market price in 2012.

Photo by Eugene Kim on Flickr

No one owns property

Residents do not own homes or property; you apply for a home and, when selected, it is given to you for your use. The entire town is an eclectic hodgepodge of homemade houses, repurposed buildings, gardens, workshops and galleries, organic cafes and music or performing arts venues.

Photo by Sputnik Mania on Flickr

Anyone can visit

Today, Christiana is the 4th most popular tourist attraction in Copenhagen, with an estimated half-million people visiting each year. It is open to the public, and visitors are welcome. However, photography once inside the community is prohibited – particularly around Pusher Street with its hash stalls, and it’s well advised not to take photos. At each entrance are signs stating the rules and “do’s” and “don’ts” for visitors.

Photo by Todd Huffman on Flickr

Various community centers provide meeting places and social venues

There are a number of particularly interesting places to check out. The Gay House is a cultural meeting place for the LGBT community, with speakers, exhibitions, performances etc. The Grey Hall is a concert hall located in an 1891 building that was originally the riding venue for the army; Loppen is another alternative concert venue.

Photo by ashfay on Flickr

The community has its own flag and currency

Christiana has its own flag and its own currency, the Løn; although euros and credit cards are accepted at most businesses. The blacksmith shop is the oldest business in Christiana, and at the Cykler place you can rent a bicycle. Having a meal here is encouraged, and everything is fresh and organic. Try the vegetarian eatery Morgenstedet or Spiseloppen restaurant.

Photo by niceness on Flickr

It has a free-thinking spirit

Christiana is free-thinking, always colourful, and sometimes controversial – particularly around the hash and marijuana sold openly from vendor stalls. There have been skirmishes with the police and government, and walking along Pusher Street is perhaps the only place in the community that can feel a bit uneasy; although overall Christiana is a very peaceful and safe place. Again, do not take photos or even have a camera or phone out, especially when walking through this area.

Photo by Naotake Murayama on Flickr
Photo by Naotake Murayama on Flickr

Filled with murals, cafes and music

Enjoying the interesting architecture, the colorful murals, eateries, shops, music concerts and performances that are throughout Christiana offers a glimpse into this lifestyle that isn’t really found anywhere else.

Author Shelley Seale, left, with her travel mates in Freetown Christiana in 2015

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