Picture by Bogdan Sameliuk (Pexels)

Christiania, the controversial freetown of Copenhagen, is one of Denmark’s most popular tourist attractions: loved by many, it has been a turning point for strong debate, especially because of the locals’ relaxed view on hash and some unfortunate violent incidents. Christiania was founded in 1971 by a group of people that occupied the military barracks in Bådmandsgade. Soon the area was known for ‘Pusher Street’, where you could buy hash and pot, but no hard drugs. Around 1000 people live in Christiania, and many of the original settlers still live in the collectively controlled village: every year more than 0,5 million people come to visit the area that has a clear 70s feel. A lot of the people living in Christiania built their homes themselves, thus giving the area an extremely interesting architectural feel: you will find a variety of eco-restaurants, workshops, galleries and music venues offering all sorts of cultural experiences. Christiania existed under special conditions for 40 years with constant conflicts and clashes between the local Christianites and the Danish state. After many years of uncertainty about the future of Christiania, on 1 July 2012 the ‘Foundation Freetown Christiania’ was founded: the foundation now owns the entire part of Christiania located outside the protected ramparts, and leases buildings and land on the ramparts, which are still owned by the state. Part of the money is raised by selling the symbolic Christiania shares. It is important to be aware that Christiania can be considered a quite rough and dodgy neighbourhood, unlike any other in Copenhagen. According to the Copenhagen police, the area around Pusher Street is controlled by organised criminal groups: the residents themselves have adopted a set of rules for security reasons, which they strongly advise visitors to abide by: there have been a small number of cases where visitors who have violated the rules have been threatened, assaulted or robbed by hash dealers. At the main entrance, there is a sign listing the rules (which the residents advise visitors not to photograph either): they discourage visitors to photograph, run and talk on the phone in the area, especially in and around Pusher Street. Locals give guided tours of the area, every day throughout the summer (26 June – 31 August) and every weekend the rest of the year: this is a really good way to experience the special Christiania vibe. The guides have lived most of their lives here, and they give a personal tour of this alternative community: the tours are in English and Danish and start from the main entrance at 15:00

Read more on Visitcopenhagen.com and on Christiania.org