Do you believe me I had no idea of the existence of Freetown Christiania before I got there? I found out about it due to my friends that are living in Copenhagen! What is Freetown Christiania? Shortly, it is a part of an island in Copenhagen that was occupied by the hippies in the 1970s. They built shacks in their style. As they did not have any authorization, many still have no running water or electricity. But they have declared their autonomy and made a point of relaxation for Copenhagen residents and visitors!
A green occupation
In 1971, a group of hippies illegally occupied the territory on which were former military barracks. As the government did not take drastic measures, they made their own neighborhood with their own rules, independent of the Danish ones. Over the years, Christiania grew as an unrecognized enclave-city and then it self-declared its autonomy (a kind of older Catalonia, haha).
Now, Christiania is thaaaat green side of Copenhagen: here the cars are forbidden (the bridges are blocked with big boulders hard to move) and it’s the only place to sell … weed! The independent neighborhood with 850 inhabitants is bounded by Copenhagen through a lot of flags caught on a string (yes, they also have their own flag, three yellow circles on a red background). And, something else: here you must have cash. You want a souvenir, a sculpture, a hot dog or a joint! There is only one place that accepts the card payment, one of the two bars, but the coffee is not as good as it is the other bar. 🙂
Shacks and art
As we entered Christiania, the city’s landscape changed completely: the vegetation abounded, we no longer saw blocks, asphalt roads, cars or people in rush. We heard the music from place to place, the youngsters sat on the lake and relax, we met an old man with long and white hair who was humming a song. And the wind brought the smell of weed.
First of all, we preferred to take a walk on the paths between the houses. The paths, not the roads! I saw houses in the trees, tilting houses, shacks with colorful wall paintings, plush toys hung on the roofs, and WCs in the woods. Honestly, I was a little controversial … Yeah, it looked good all those colors, but how can these people live in such conditions?
On others buildings and walls, I admired the coolest graffiti I’ve ever seen. But this is not the only manifestation of art I found here! They have workshops where they produce all sorts of handcrafts: from textiles to wood sculptures, painted pictures. There are a lot of art galleries. Yes, yes, in the shacks neighborhood there are art galleries with the works of locals! And believe me, they’re very talented!
Pusher Street, the place without pictures
Yes, yes, the interesting part follows! When we approached Freetown, towards a small square with tables and benches, I immediately saw the NO PHOTO signs. At each entrance, some boys with a hood on their head stood watching. They were reporting whatever they suspected, or if the police came (Christiania is illegal to sell/buy weed even if everyone is doing it) and to remind tourists to put their phones in the bag. I learned from my friends that the phones have been forbidden since a journalist came here, pretending to be talking to her cellphone, and filmed those who sell different illegal plants. The video came to the police and over 30 people were detained when they stepped out of the Freetown.
In 2016, when a policeman was shot here in an altercation, the police came here in raids and destroyed the stalls (the only ones that remained until they reached the city center).
As soon as we walked on the famous street, dozens of small stalls were slide on both sides. The cigarettes were already made and packed nicely in a plastic tube. Each tube had its name, depending on what type of plant/combination in it. Although the names were cool, like “Flamingo,” those who sell were being asked to explain what was in them: what kind of marijuana or hash, how much, what mood that joint gives you. A joint was just 50 DKK (5 eur)! And there were even larger ones, like Jamaican movies, at 150 DKK. Eh, interesting, right?
Obviously, if you decide to buy something, it’s at your own risk from the very beginning. Note that Denmark considers it illegal – according to the law (even though the law is more relaxed here). At the same time, it is not illegal to be stoned, not even outside the “boundaries” of Christiania. You decide!
Well, I did not see this one unfortunately, but someone told me. As the wind is constantly blowing in the area, the hippies cannot make the joints classically. So they have a drilled box in which they put the paper cones and mix the weed with tobacco on top of them until they fill up. They stuff them until are ready. The joints are packed in the plastic tubes and ready to be bought.
If I do not smoke weed, can I visit Christiania?
Obviously yes! Go there least for the atmosphere of this place. Dedicate Christiania the Freetown at least two hours of your life and you won’t regret it! It’s a popular place to go out in town, it’s a relaxing oasis in the capital of Denmark. And you do not have to smoke to come here! Enjoy the colors, the people who are happy around you, the peace of the lake or the little boats that float around!
A part of Christiania in photos:
*this article was published also in Romanian on corinamatei.ro