Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania, is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood in Denmark. It began life in 1971, when a group of hippies started squatting in an old military base in Copenhagen and declared it as a state. It has it's own currency, it's own flag and it's own rules - for example, you can't buy property in Christiania, you have to apply for it, and if you're successful you're given the property. You're not allowed to take photos in various places and you do get told off (hence why I had to use my phone there, instead of my camera - that's my excuse for dubious photo quality anyway!) There are about 850 people living there, with it's own bars, shops and cafes. Old barracks have been turned into houses, nurseries and businesses. There are no cars in Christiania, just bikes. When you enter the neighbourhood, there are signs telling you you're leaving the EU. There's a completely different atmosphere to the rest of Copenhagen - there are self built homes and it's covered in graffiti. I'd never heard of it before, despite having been to Copenhagen before, until a colleague told me to go there and I knew it would have to be one of the places on my list while I was in Copenhagen.
One of the different things about Christiania is the open cannabis trade on the main high street - Pusher Street. Now this is nothing I'm not used to, I used to live in Holland and spent quite a bit of time in the red light district in Amsterdam, not to mention the fact that one of my friends in Holland lived above a coffee shop and his flat always stunk of weed. But I don't know what it was about Christiania, but I never felt safe there like I did in Amsterdam or Leiden. I felt like a load of odd and scary looking people had descended on this commune just to get away with smoking pot which just felt a bit sad. I'm all for people living the way they want to live, I just didn't enjoy being there and I'm not sure that a lot of the people there were actually the people who lived in Christiania, but opportunists. It didn't feel friendly, I didn't feel that safe and something just felt off.
So a place to visit? Yes, probably, you won't see anything else like it in Europe and you can get round it quite quickly. Even though I didn't stop long, one of the best things about Christiania is apparently the vast amount of organic and vegetarian food you can find there - so probably a pretty good place for lunch. I think it's like Marmite - an experience you'll either love or hate.
Have you ever been here? What did you think?