<p>(by Tony Webster CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)</p>
  • Europe /
  • Denmark /
  • Copenhagen

From a military compound to a symbol of autonomy, culture and community. Discover the highlights of Freetown Christiania

Dyssebroen - Along the waterside
(by Jorge Franganillo, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
(by Schorle, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

(by Jorge Franganillo, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Christiania is a focal point for events and engaging personalities. It is lively and colourful and shows signs of uncompleted history. Nevertheless, the commune extends all the way up north until it almost reaches the neighbourhood of Holmen. One can follow beautiful paths along the waterside up to the famous restaurant Noma and return on the other side of the water. Dyssebroen, a bridge connecting the side of Christiania in Christianshavn to the one on the island Amager, will lead the way back to the centre. The way to the bridge alone is remarkable and gives an impression of the essential component that keeps Christiania together: The people.

They organise themselves as an intentional community, a voluntary collective of individuals who base their cohabitation on a joint objective and social cohesion. This is reflected in the aim to be a shelter for everyone who feels left out or not belonging, including people addicted to drugs or without a home. It is common to share property, responsibilities and an alternative lifestyle. The policy works differently in the community than in the rest of Denmark. Grassroots democracy and consensus are the buzzwords that guide the decision-making of the nearly 1000 inhabitants. There are no internal police or leading governmental structures – judgements and punishments are carried out through meetings and common adjudication. In the worst case, this can lead to exclusion from the community. In the early stages, issues considering the supply of water and electricity or the common budget plan were also discussed in community meetings.

Over the years, Christiania established social institutions like a post office, kindergartens, schools and a swimming pool. Yet, owning or renting housing is not possible as all the buildings belong to the community. Housing distribution is also a task of the neighbourhood meetings, in which unanimous votes decide who is allowed to occupy the house. However, the community is not entirely isolated from the life around it. Many residents work outside Christiania, and their lifestyle inside is not wholly free of consumerism, even though there is not only the Danish krone but also Christiania’s own currency called “Løn” since 1976. One “Løn” equals approximately 50 Danish kroner.

Moreover, Christiania carries its own flag – three yellow dots on a red banner represent the three dots in “Christiania”. And the protest song “You cannot kill us” was declared the unofficial anthem of the commune. It was written in 1976 by Tom Lunden of Bifrost, a Danish rock band.

During a stroll along the green paths, Christiania will show its peaceful nature and beautiful waterside, but also colourful and cosy homes; each one is unique and tells its very own story. Most of them are self-constructed, and every building is undoubtedly a piece of art. They represent the individualistic culture of Christiania’s population and the ability of every person to be an artist. In this part of the commune, freedom takes on a whole new meaning, especially when standing on Dyssebroen. A lovely view of the water and plants around it opens up from here, and it is even possible to take pictures and leave behind the severity of the regulations which keep the area around Pusher Street safe.

Christiania offers many more highlights to be explored by curious minds and welcomes visitors with a wide range of opportunities. Whether it is a relaxing walk through the area, a picnic in nature or one of the many artsy cafés, there is always a reason to come back and to be inspired by the particular atmosphere of Christiania.

Introduction

1. The barracks of Bådsmandsstræde

2. Pusher Street

3. Bøssehuset and They Grey Hall

4. Dyssebroen - Along the waterside

Conclusion