Christiania: Europe’s Most Fascinating Neighbourhood
Christiania, located in central Copenhagen, is perhaps the most bizarre and unique neighbourhood I have ever been to in Europe. This 41-hectare area used to be a military camp, established in the 17th century, until the military moved out in the late 1960s. The now-abandoned military barracks were overtaken by squatters at the height if the hippie revolution in 1971. As soon as they settled down, these people proclaimed the “free state” of Christiania, a mini-state free from the control of the government and subject to their own laws. The military barracks were converted into housing, schools, shops and various public spaces. Over time many people from all corners of Denmark flocked to this area, attracted by the communal and alternate living. There are currently approximately one thousand people living in this autonomous commune.
The whole concept of Christiania remained controversial as time went on; however the government had to bow down to public pressure and let Christiania continue as a social experiment. Nevertheless, over time the local free-spirited residents had to modify their “anything goes” approach, banning the sale of hard drugs; however, the area still remains the epicentre of sale of marijuana (and perhaps other soft drugs), especially around Pusher Street, regardless of the fact that nowadays it is officially illegal.
Notwithstanding the abundance of drugs and some dodgy-looking characters, Christiania is a joy to stroll through, especially when you diverge your path from the main areas, and explore the picturesque quite streets and backyards. Around every corner, there is a proliferation of vivid colour and graffiti, and cute residential houses are abound. Visiting Christiania, even it is for an hour or two, is a really eye-opening and fascinating experience, and should not be surpassed if you are ever in Copenhagen. I tried to take as many photographs as possible; unfortunately, in the main drags of Christiania photography is prohibited, and I am sure you can probably guess why…