Corona Virus important information
Christiania: Denmark's Alternative City | Insight Guides Blog

Christiania: Denmark's Alternative City

Christiana, (photo by  )
Christiana

In a beautiful position on Copenhagen's waterfront, Christiania offers a way of life far removed from the bustle of a city. In 1971, a group of alternative thinkers founded the 34-hectare (84-acre) “Free City” complete with woods, dirt roads, workshops, restaurants and funky houses.

Hipsters Galore

The hippy playground in the heart of the city – only 1km (1⁄2 mile) from the Parliament buildings – occupies what was previously an abandoned 19th-century military barracks in Christianshavn. The Christianites, about 850 people of all ages, cultures and income levels, have converted barrack blocks, workshops and powder magazines into a place where they can live and work. There are only four rules: no hard drugs, no cars, no gang insignia, no weapons or violence.

From the entrance on, Christiania is a sensory overload. Buildings are painted with rainbows, spiritual figures and politically defiant graffiti. There are barefoot cyclists, their baskets full of vegetables; earthy-smelling organic markets; recycling warehouses; workshops and stables. Resident children play in an “organic kindergarten”, where modern equipment is replaced with nature. Houses along the leafy path have names such as “The Blue Banana” or “The Pyramid”.

Best Bites

Christiania has some of the best restaurants in the city, including SpiseLoppen (The Eating Flea), in the warehouse by the front entrance. In the same building is Loppen, a music club. Månefiskeren (The Moon Fisher), a café in the heart of the collective, serves excellent coffee in a “far-out” atmosphere.

Normalising

For years, Christiania’s unusual social experiment was tolerated, but since 2004 the Danish government has stepped up measures to “normalise” the area. A police crackdown on “Pusher Street”, where marijuana was once sold openly, drove the drugs trade underground. In 2006 the government proposed that all buildings should be privately owned, a suggestion fiercely rejected by the Christiania collective. When government workers entered Christiania in 2007 with a police guard and began to demolish a derelict building, tension quickly turned to violent protest, with 59 arrests.

Christiania’s future looks uncertain, as government and big business press to turn a spirit-of-Woodstock piece of prime real estate into an affluent suburb. Visit while it still exists.

An inexpensive walking tour leaves at 4pm from the front entrance (July daily, rest of year weekends) – this is the best way to see the Free City and get a broader perspective. Christiania’s tourist guide (10 DKK) provides a detailed history and self-guided walks.

 

Across the Bridge – top 5 things to do in Copenhagen and Malmö


Rudy Hemmingsen

 


 

Planning a visit to Scandinavia?

 

Get some top tips in our country by country introductions


If you're a movie buff, read about the best film and TV locations you can visit in Scandinavia

 

An editor's account of looking for the Northern Lights and staying in Swedish Lapland

 

Sprites and trolls... a brief overview of Norse folklore

 

An introduction to Tove Jansson's iconic Moomin stories

 

Underground art – the aesthetic pleasures of Stockholm's subways

 

Want to know more? See all of our articles on Scandinavia...

 

 

If it's a guide book you're looking for, check out the selection below:

 

 


This March we're exploring stunning Scandinavia as our destination of the month. For more updates keep following the Insight blog, or check us out on Twitter @InsightGuides or on our Insight Facebook page, or why not look at some lovely travel photography on Pinterest


 

Discover more with Insight Guides

 

home  •  inspire me  •  destinations  •  shop •  blog


We use technical and marketing cookies, our own and those from third parties. If you continue browsing this website, you are accepting our cookies policy.Learn more
xx