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March 20, 2010
From journal Fall 2009 Trip to Europe
Saint Paul, Minnesota
August 19, 2005
Christiania is technically not a part of Copenhagen or even Denmark. Since 1969, they have been their own independent country–they are not even a part of the United Nations. Nevertheless, the small nation of Christiania is still landlocked by Copenhagen.
The tale of Christiania is long and detailed, and begins with their attempts to gain freedom from the laws and regulations of Denmark. Residents are allowed to smoke marijuana, and that was one of the biggest boiling points in the founding of Christiania. Even though pot is allowed, most other drugs are not. Because Christiania is not technically governed by Denmark, they regulate and pay for everything, from daycare to mail service.
This town of about 1,000 people is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Christiania is very organic-friendly and does not allow cars–in fact, it is walled off from the rest of Copenhagen. The town is also very artistic, with painters and free shows. Walls are painted with very vivid colors, and music pours from many spaces. The residents advise strongly against using cameras within, as they like to protect their privacy, so there are not many pictures of the town.
Walking around Christiania is fascinating. On the day we were there, there was a market going on. The market had blankets, clothing, and marijuana for sale, among other items. Many of the houses are incredibly close to the walking/biking paths, so you could look in if you wanted to. Residents of Christiania encourage you to speak with them and ask questions.
Even if you do not agree with the regulations of Christiania, it is still a fascinating place to visit–a must-see in Copenhagen! Go to the Christiania website to find a detailed history and other information. The website has Danish and English versions.
From journal Copenhagen: Europe's Quiet Metropolis
bilston, United Kingdom
November 22, 2003
It struck me as being just a place where dropouts are allowed to drop out. I mean, I'm 28 years old and I'm no old fogey, but I wouldn't bring children there (drugs are sold openly on the street). The whole place is fairly run-down and shanty-like, and although I don't disagree with Copenhagen's policy of allowing the residents to stay there, unless you are seriously into embracing your alternative lifestyle (in an Amsterdam sense), it's not worth the trip.
Children tried to sell me greasy cheese sandwiches, and I just couldn't get out quick enough! Definitely a cultural experience, but after the gleaming jewel of a city that Copenhagen is, it was beyond shocking for me to cross the canal and enter such squalour! Go if you're curious, but don't say I didn't warn you!
From journal Copenhagen in the Autumn
by Lauren T
January 22, 2002
First of all, technically it is true that they are here illegally, but illegally in name only. The Danish government is well aware they are there, have been there for decades, and seems content with this fact. Sometimes it even appears the Danes have embraced the Christianian community. True, none of the world's governments recognize the "Free Nation of Christiania" but it isn't illegal in a way that should cause you to worry about a police crackdown on the place while you are visiting.
Also, the citizens of Christiania have only legalized pot and hash. Possession or use of hard drugs within the colony is dealt with very harshly.
Above all, remember that Christiania, while certainly not for every visitor to Denmark, is perfectly safe.
I visited here on a field trip for one of my classes. As part of our tour, we visited a couple of the many hash vendors in the colony where we were taught how to inspect the hash for quality (I certainly didn't learn anything like this in any of my classes in America!). I don't remember much about how to inspect it except that the darker, oilier hash is apparently the best.
While they seem set up to sell the hash in bulk, they advise you not to purchase more than you intend to consume within the walls of the compound, since hash is illegal in Denmark (although, to be honest, I don't think it is dealt with very harshly).
There are more interesting things than drugs in Christiania, however. True, you probably should avoid it if you are disturbed by the thought of pot or hash being consumed in your presence, but don't be turned off on it just because you aren't interested in consuming any yourself either. The Danish teacher who took us on the field trip here professes never to have consumed a cannibis product and yet visits here regularly. The colony has a charming (if a bit dilapidated) quality and hosts a thriving community of artists and craftsmen and, since the citizens of Christiania refuse to pay their Danish taxes (although many of them do wander into the city once a month to pick up their welfare checks), it is a great place to shop cheaply. Metalworking, in particular, is a local specialty.
Like I said before, this isn't for everyone, but if you are a little open minded, you may find it very interesting, and I guarantee Christiania will be distinctly different from anything else you see in Copenhagen.
From journal Christmas in Copenhagen
December 12, 2000
It is a free haven for "independent minded" individuals...to live live as they see fit. On my visit, it looked like a country market with a 1960's twist.
The area is spread over 20 acres and drugs can be found most everywhere, but in a non-threatening environment. Stores, markets, kiosks abound as do shacks, shanties and huts.
The funniest thing I saw was at the Christiania restaurant which had a large banner that said "Just say no to HARD drugs".
You are NOT allowed to take pictures anywhere inside the compound...so don't try!
You can reach Christiania on the public bus #8 from the Radhus Pladsen. I think it is a worthwhile place to go just for the spectacle of it all!
From journal Copenhagen....a few delightful days