Christiania’s historyChristiania was originally founded in 1971 by a group of young anarchist/artist type hippies that just marched in and took over an abandoned military base. Crazy, right?! They named it ‘Christiania’ being that it sits in the borough of Christianshavn and they turned it into their own self-proclaimed free zone. As you enter, you pass under a big sign that reads ‘You are now leaving the European Union.’ Originally, it was an area in which anyone could squat for free. Things have been up and down since the founding of the community though, as essentially it is a seized piece of government property with an open-air, soft drug market meaning that naturally, the residents have had continuous run-ins with the government. In 2011 they shut the doors for the first time ever, to come together as a community and talk about what to do. They later reopened with a signed deal from the government to buy back the land at an agreed price of 102 million DKK. For years after the deal, every time you went to Christiania they would have fundraisers or ask for donations until a few years ago when they finally raised enough money.
Christiania todayThese days, Christiania is still a place for free loving, young, pseudo-hippies to go and enjoy themselves. Beer is cheap, coffee is cheap and in summer when the sun is out 20 hours a day you will never find the place empty! Hash still plays a major part in the environment there, but it is far less prominent, although you will still find the smell wafting around every corner.
Best things to do in ChristianiaThere is a free sauna inside of Christiania. If you are not European (or at least European-inclined) you might be a little thrown off by the fact that everyone is naked… especially as it’s a unisex sauna! Coming from Australia, I was not really used to seeing naked women just sitting there ignoring the fact that there were naked men all around them. If you can manage not to stare, and you’re confident enough to sit in a room full of naked people, then this is a super fun experience and truly authentic to the ‘free’ nature of Christiania. In the colder months especially, this sauna is extremely popular. You may need to meet and talk to someone inside Christiania to find this hidden gem. I only found out about it after a year or two of living in Copenhagen. If skating is your thing, or you just enjoy watching it like almost every one I know, there is an indoor skate park that you might enjoy with a few ramps and hips outside for your enjoyment. Two friends of mine that grew up inside of Christiania constructed the bowl inside, and it quickly became a meeting point for the Copenhagen skate scene. These days, it attracts pros from all around the world.
Live music in ChristianiaThere is live music constantly in Christiania with a string of amazing venues and outdoor locations to see it all. Nemo Land, also a cute cafe, provides two free concerts every Sunday. I have seen everything from open mic freestyle battles to Finnish crust punk, Swedish black metal, and obscure underground euro dubstep. Loppen, a live music hall, is normally pretty alternative but some really big names in hip-hop and rock have played here also. The Grey Hall, or Den Grå Hal as it is known in Danish, is another big venue inside of Christiania which has hosted a huge amount of massive names from Bob Dylan to Metallica and Rage Against the Machine… (just to name a few!) As well as this, they have other free concerts on and off all summer long where you will find massive amounts of people just hanging out on the grass enjoying the weather and live music.
Eating in ChristianiaHere are some of my top suggestions for where to eat in Christiania: Morgenstedet: is an organic vegetarian cafe that was personally my favourite place to eat in Christiania. Spiseloppen: Probably the most multicultural place you will ever eat in, between the chefs, the waiters, and the customers you can easily hear 10-15 different languages being spoken. The food constantly differs but if you are so inclined there is at least one vegetarian meal on the menu every night. Cafe Månefiskeren or moon fisher is another cute cafe with cheap coffee, pool tables, toilets (which can be hard to find in Christiania) and an outdoor seating and garden area which is also used for more live music during the summer time.
Cafe Månefiskeren : @williamshellard