“You are now leaving the European Union”
This has nothing to do with Brexit. It is what is written on the entrance arch of Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen.
The area has a self-proclaimed status of a free, autonomous town, and was called a “social experiment”. Christiania was founded in 1971, when the housing prices in the Danish capital were too high for many to afford to buy and so a group of squatters broke into the abandoned military facility and made it their home.
It now has a population of more than 800 people, its own set of rules, flag and even currency. It has a strong hippy vibe– there are peace and love signs all around, people grow their own fruit and veg, and there are colourful murals at any corner. The old military barracks have been transformed into homes, shops and restaurants and some residents even built their own houses using various materials. One of the most impressive constructions is the “Glass House”. It is made by recycled windows and is an example of the modern “architecture without architects”. You can also encounter interesting sculptures made from recycled materials, beautiful art. Even the rubbish bins have an opinion of their own.
Lucky me visited it back in February with my girlfriends, meaning I can now tell story of a special place!
It only takes about 40 minutes to walk there from central Copenhagen. After crossing the Knippelsbro bridge, you find yourself in Christianshavn, the neighbourhood where an old military base was converted into a hippie commune 45 years ago.
While walking around, we discovered a lot of signs reminding visitors and residents of the rules of Christiania, some of which are interesting – you are not allowed to take cars into the area, or wear bulletproof clothing, and hard drugs are strictly forbidden. However, soft drugs, such as cannabis are tolerated.
If you wanted to see various kinds of hash sold almost freely on the street then the Green light district, located on Pusher Street, is your place. Another sign greets visitors to the district, advising them not to take pictures while they are there, as it also is against the rules.
Christiania also has its own skate park. I discovered it when I saw a wooden sign, which read “Welcome to Wonderland”. This automatically made me feel like Alice and I felt the urge to go in. It is an indoor wooden bowl, a skate park “owned by none but ran by all”. The place doesn’t have an entrance fee or working hours, which makes it unique. Skaters are asked to give something back to Wonderland, be it respect and good vibes, their old board or a skate deck – whatever they can.
An afternoon spent in Christiania is like an escape from reality. Visitors are welcome to explore the area, walk around, have some food or drinks in one of the numerous cafés or restaurants, attend events at the Gay House or skate in Wonderland. Just remember to respect the locals and their rules, which you are reminded of by all the signs around.