Freetown Christiania
Not to be confused with Christiania, Norway, another name for Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...


Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania (Danish: Fristaden Christiania) is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents, covering 34 hectares (85 acres) in the borough of Christianshavn
Christianshavn is an artificial island neighbourhood located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in the early 17th century by Christian IV as part of his extension of the fortifications of Copenhagen. Originally it was laid out as an independent privileged merchant's town with inspiration from...

 in the Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 capital Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

. Civic authorities in Copenhagen regard Christiania as a large commune
Commune may refer to:In society:* Commune, a human community in which resources are shared* Commune , a township or municipality* One of the Communes of France* An Italian Comune...

, but the area has a unique status in that it is regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989 which transfers parts of the supervision of the area from the municipality of Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 to the state. It was closed by residents in April 2011, whilst discussions continued with the Danish government as to its future, but is now open again.

Christiania has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. Its cannabis
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that includes three putative species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. These three taxa are indigenous to Central Asia, and South Asia. Cannabis has long been used for fibre , for seed and seed oils, for medicinal purposes, and as a...

 trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004. Since then, measures for normalising the legal status of the community have led to conflicts, and negotiations are ongoing.

Among many Christiania residents, the community is known as staden ('the town'), short for fristaden ('the freetown').

Barracks and ramparts

The area of Christiania consists of the former military barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

 of Bådsmandsstræde and parts of the city ramparts
Defensive wall
A defensive wall is a fortification used to protect a city or settlement from potential aggressors. In ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements...

. The ramparts and the borough of Christianshavn
Christianshavn is an artificial island neighbourhood located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in the early 17th century by Christian IV as part of his extension of the fortifications of Copenhagen. Originally it was laid out as an independent privileged merchant's town with inspiration from...

 (then a separate city) were established in 1617 by King Christian IV
Christian IV of Denmark
Christian IV was the king of Denmark-Norway from 1588 until his death. With a reign of more than 59 years, he is the longest-reigning monarch of Denmark, and he is frequently remembered as one of the most popular, ambitious and proactive Danish kings, having initiated many reforms and projects...

 by reclaiming the low beaches and islets between Copenhagen and Amager
Amager is a Danish island in the Øresund. The Danish capital, Copenhagen, is partly situated on Amager, which is connected to the much larger island of Zealand by five bridges.-History:...

. After the siege of Copenhagen during the harsh wars with Sweden, the ramparts were reinforced during 1682 to 1692 under Christian V
Christian V of Denmark
Christian V , was king of Denmark and Norway from 1670 to 1699, the son of Frederick III of Denmark and Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

 to form a complete defence ring. The western ramparts of Copenhagen were demolished during the 19th century, but those of Christianshavn were allowed to remain. They are today considered among the finest surviving 17th century defence works in the world.

The barracks of Bådsmandsstræde (Bådsmandsstrædes Kaserne) housed the Royal Artillery Regiment
Kongens Artilleriregiment
The Kongens Artilleriregiment , short KAR, was a Danish Army artillery regiment.-History:Kongens Artilleriregiment was formed in 1. August 1982 by merging Kronens Artilleriregiment from Sjælsmark barracks and Sjællandske Artilleriregiment from Holbæk barracks. On 1...

, the Army Materiel Command
Army Materiel Command (Denmark)
Army Materiel Command , short "HMAK", was the Royal Danish Army's institution in all matters of material. That included supply, maintenance and production. Anything from tanks to the sunglasses of troops or which kind of chocolate is in the field rations. It was a Level. II command authority,...

 and ammunition laboratories and depots. Less used after World War II, the barracks were abandoned during 1967 to 1971.

The adjacent area to the north, Holmen
Holmen naval base
Naval Station Holmen is one of several naval stations of the Royal Danish Navy, supplementing the two Danish naval bases in Frederikshavn and Korsør....

, was Denmark's main naval base until the 1990s. It is an area in development, home to the new Copenhagen Opera House (not to be confused with the first and still existing venue called "Operaen", a concert venue in Christiania) and schools. An area further north is still used by the navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

, but open to the public during daytime.

The outermost defence line, Enveloppen, has been renamed Dyssen in Christiania language (except for the southernmost tip of it which was not annexed by Christiania). It is connected to central Christiania by a bridge across the main moat or can be reached by the path beginning at Christmas Møllers Plads. Four gunpowder storehouses line the redan
Redan is a term related to fortifications. It is a work in a V-shaped salient angle toward an expected attack...

s. They were built 1779-80 to replace a storage in central Copenhagen, at Østerport, which blasted infamously in 1770, killing 50 people. The buildings are renamed Aircondition, Autogena, Fakirskolen (The Fakir School) and Kosmiske Blomst (Cosmic Flower) and have, although protected, been slightly altered from their historical state.

The last Danish execution site, active from 1946 to 1950, can still be seen on the Second Redan
Redan is a term related to fortifications. It is a work in a V-shaped salient angle toward an expected attack...

 close to the building called Aircondition. The wooden execution shed is gone, but the concrete foundation and a drain for the blood remain just next to the path. In total, 29 World War II criminals were executed on the site. The last was Ib Birkedal, a high-level Danish Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 collaborator, on 20 July 1950.

Building and area protection

In 2007, the National Heritage Agency proposed protection status for some of the ancient military buildings, now in Christiania. These are:
  • Den grå hal ('The grey hall'), formerly a riding house with a unique Bohlendach roof construction, now Christiania's largest concert venue
  • Den grønne hal ('The green hall'), originally a smaller riding house
  • Mælkebøtten ('The dandelion')
  • The Commander's house, a half-timbered building
  • The 17th and 18th century powder magazines on the bastions.

Some of the historic buildings have been altered somewhat after Christiania's takeover.

Founding of Christiania

After the military moved out, the area was only guarded by a few watchmen and there was sporadic trespassing of homeless people using the empty buildings. On 4 September 1971, inhabitants of the surrounding neighbourhood broke down the fence to take over parts of the unused area as a playground for their children.

Although the takeover was not necessarily organised in the beginning, some claim this happened as a protest against the Danish government. At the time there was a lack of affordable housing in Copenhagen.

On 26 September 1971, Christiania was declared open by Jacob Ludvigsen, a well-known provo and journalist who published a magazine called Hovedbladet ('The main paper'), which was intended for and successfully distributed to mostly young people. In the paper, Ludvigsen wrote an article in which he and five others went on exploration into what he termed 'The Forbidden City of the Military'. The article widely announced the proclamation of the free town, and among other things he wrote the following under the headline Civilians conquered the 'forbidden city' of the military:
Christiania is the land of the settlers. It is the so far biggest opportunity to build up a society from scratch - while nevertheless still incorporating the remaining constructions. Own electricity plant, a bath-house, a giant athletics building, where all the seekers of peace could have their grand meditation - and yoga center. Halls where theater groups can feel at home. Buildings for the stoners who are too paranoid and weak to participate in the race...Yes for those who feel the beating of the pioneer heart there can be no doubt as to the purpose of Christiania. It is the part of the city which has been kept secret to us - but no more.

Ludvigsen was co-author of Christiania's mission statement
Mission statement
A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company or organization. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making...

, dating from 1971, which offers the following:
The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the wellbeing of the entire community. Our society is to be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration is to be steadfast in our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted.

The spirit of Christiania quickly developed into one of the hippie movement
The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The etymology of the term 'hippie' is from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into San Francisco's...

, the squatter movement, collectivism
Collectivism is any philosophic, political, economic, mystical or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists usually focus on community, society, or nation...

 and anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

, in contrast to the site's previous military use.

The 1976 protest song I kan ikke slå os ihjel (translated: "You cannot kill us"), written by Tom Lunden of flower power
Flower power
Flower power is a slogan used by the American counterculture movement during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology. It is rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War. The expression was coined by the American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in...

 rock group Bifrost
Bifrost (band)
Bifrost is a Danish rock band that was considered one of the last of the Danish flower power revolution bands. The band is best known for the songs Hej Maria and Det er morgen , both written and sung by keyboardist Tom Lundén...

, became the unofficial anthem of Christiania.

The community

Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 and yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

 have always been popular among the Christianites, and for many years Christiania had their own internationally acclaimed theater group Solvognen, who, beyond their theater performances, also staged many happenings in Copenhagen and even throughout Sweden. Ludvigsen had always talked of the acceptance of drug-addicts who could no longer cope with regular society, and the spirit of that belief has still not diminished, even though many problems sprouted due to drug traffic and use (mostly of 'hard drugs', however, which are not tolerated in Christiania). These addicts enter and remain in Christiania and are considered just as integral to the Freetown ethics as the entrepreneurs. For this reason many Danes have seen Christiania as a successful social experiment. However, for years the legal status of the region has been in a limbo due to different Danish governments attempting to remove the Christianites. Such attempts at removal have all been unsuccessful so far.

Christiania is thus one of the greatest tourist attractions in Copenhagen, and abroad it is a well-known "brand" for the progressive and liberated Danish lifestyle. Many Danish businesses and organizations also use Christiania as a show place for their foreign friends and guests. The purpose is to show something Danish that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Among the local users are many social security recipients, pensioners, immigrants and clients from social institutions. Single mothers also visit here, not to mention the many homeless and jobless young people. Greenlanders, street people and vagabonds, all find a sanctuary here. But many other people such as students, musicians, artists, intellectuals and academics visit the Freetown often.

In Christiania the creative and recreational values are found in rich measure. In fact, the green ramparts of Christiania appear much more recreational and attractive to visitors than the well kept, deserted areas under the care of municipal Copenhagen. Many people, however, abstain from exploring and using Christiania, simply because they cannot find their way around.

The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, independent of the Danish government. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs and bikers' colors.

Famous for its main drag, known as Pusher Street, where hash
Hashish is a cannabis preparation composed of compressed stalked resin glands, called trichomes, collected from the unfertilized buds of the cannabis plant. It contains the same active ingredients but in higher concentrations than unsifted buds or leaves...

 and skunk weed were sold openly from permanent stands until 2004, it nevertheless does have rules forbidding 'hard drugs', such as cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

, amphetamine
Amphetamine or amfetamine is a psychostimulant drug of the phenethylamine class which produces increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite.Brand names of medications that contain, or metabolize into, amphetamine include Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat,...

, ecstasy
MDMA is an entactogenic drug of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class of drugs. In popular culture, MDMA has become widely known as "ecstasy" , usually referring to its street pill form, although this term may also include the presence of possible adulterants...

 and heroin. The hash commerce is controversial, but since the rules require a consensus they cannot be removed unless everybody agrees. Legalization of cannabis is one of the ideas of many of the citizens in Christiania. The region negotiated an arrangement with the Danish defence ministry (which still owns the land) in 1995. Since 1994, residents have paid taxes and fees for water, electricity, trash disposal, etc. The future of the area remains in doubt, though, as Danish authorities continue to push for its removal.

After bitter negotiations that temporarily resulted in the area being sealed off to the public, in June 2011, the residents of Christiania agreed to collectively set up a fund to formally purchase the land at below market prices. Uncertainty remains over how the money will be raised.

The flag

The flag of Christiania is a red banner with three yellow discs representing the dots in the "i"s in "Christiania". The colours were supposedly chosen because when the original squatters took over the former military base, they reportedly found a large amount of red and yellow paint.

Recent controversies

Partly as a consequence of the government's normalization plans, there have been increasing protests and conflicts in and around Christiania. See below: Further development.

Riots over demolition of house

On May 14, 2007, workers from the governmental Forest and Nature Agency, accompanied by police, entered Christiania to demolish leftovers of the small, abandoned building of Cigarkassen ('the cigar box'). They were met by angry and frightened Christianites, fearing that the police also intended to demolish other houses. Road blocks were built and trucks transporting what was left of the house were sabotaged, so that they could not move. The police then entered the Freetown on a massive scale and were met by resistance. Residents threw stones and shot fireworks at police vehicles. They also built barricades in the street outside Christiania's gate. The police used tear gas on the residents and a number of arrests were made. One activist snuck behind the police commander and poured a bucket of urine and faeces upon him. Later, the police force retreated from Christiania. As youths barricaded the entrances to Christiania and bombarded the police with stones and Molotov cocktail
Molotov cocktail
The Molotov cocktail, also known as the petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, Molotov bomb, fire bottle, fire bomb, or simply Molotov, is a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons...

s, the trouble continued into the early morning hours. After several failed attempts to storm the barricades, the police retreated and ultimately gave up. In all, over 50 activists from both Christiania and outside were arrested. Prosecutors are demanding they be imprisoned on the basis that they might otherwise participate in further disturbances in Copenhagen (which prosecutors claim is "in a state of rebellion.")

2005 shooting and murder

On April 24, 2005, a 26-year-old Christiania resident was killed and three other residents injured in a violent gang assault on Pusher Street. The reason for this was a feud over the cannabis market of Copenhagen.

After the open cannabis trade was ended in Christiania the year before, criminal circles outside Christiania were eager to take over the market. Those responsible for the shooting were one such gang, primarily of immigrants residing in Nørrebro
Nørrebro is one of the 10 official districts of Copenhagen, Denmark. It is northwest of the city centre, beyond the location of the old Northern Gate , which, until dismantled in 1856, was near the current Nørreport station.-Geography:...

, a northwestern borough of the city. They had repeatedly asked the Christiania pushers to allow them on their market and had repeatedly been turned down. On April 23, 2005, this stalemate escalated violently. The pushers of Christiania discovered that a member of the outside gang had infiltrated their organisation by dating a female pusher. He was exposed and just barely escaped - two shots were fired at him. The next day two cars pulled up outside Christiania and 6–8 masked men with automatic weapons got out and headed for Pusher Street. When they arrived they fired at least 35 heavy rounds indiscriminately toward the crowd, killing one Christianite and injuring three others.

Some saw this tragic incident as a sign that the future survival of the community was dubious due to the risk of violence stemming from the cannabis market. Others blamed the incident on the fragmentation of the Copenhagen cannabis
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that includes three putative species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. These three taxa are indigenous to Central Asia, and South Asia. Cannabis has long been used for fibre , for seed and seed oils, for medicinal purposes, and as a...

 market and its expansion to the rest of the city, brought about by the measures of the Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a Danish politician, and the 12th and current Secretary General of NATO. Rasmussen served as Prime Minister of Denmark from 27 November 2001 to 5 April 2009....

 government. See below: Drugs

2004 TV feature

The political satirical TV show Den halve sandhed (The half truth) featured Christiania in its March 26, 2004 episode. As a tongue-in-cheek
Tongue-in-cheek is a phrase used as a figure of speech to imply that a statement or other production is humorously intended and it should not be taken at face value. The facial expression typically indicates that one is joking or making a mental effort. In the past, it may also have indicated...

 action, a journalist started to erect a small wooden hut in one of Christiania's open areas, claiming he assumed everyone could settle in the freetown.

Within minutes, Christiania residents arrived and told him this was totally unacceptable. The journalist was violently threatened to make himself scarce. Other residents, however, took the time to peacefully explain Christiania building rules (approval by the community meeting is needed for construction). Later, journalists set up a stall attempting to sell 'non-politically correct' products such as Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants, and vending machines in more than 200 countries. It is produced by The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia, and is often referred to simply as Coke...

 and Israeli oranges
Jaffa orange
The Jaffa orange, also Shamouti orange, is a sweet, almost seedless orange variety. Originally developed by Palestinian farmers in the mid-19th century, it takes its name from the city of Jaffa where it was first produced for export. It became a primary citrus export of the State of Israel...

, arguing this was no worse than selling cannabis to minors.


Within Christiania itself no private cars are allowed. However, a total of 132 cars are owned by residents and need to be parked on the streets surrounding the Freetown. After negotiating with city authorities, Christiania has agreed to establish parking areas for residents' own cars on its territory. As of 2005, parking space for only 14 cars had been established within the area.

Before the city council elections of November 2001, residents in one of Christiania's sections proposed a municipal kindergarten just outside Christiania should be torn down and moved some hundred meters away, the area being turned into a parking lot. The proposal was criticised by other Christiania residents and citizens in the borough, but proponents claimed the wooden kindergarten buildings were outdated anyway and the parking space issue needed to be solved before Christiania itself would turn into an area where cars were widely parked. It has also been claimed that taxis and police vehicles add to the traffic problems.

As of 2008 Christiania established a road block robot in the vehicle entrance of Christiania next to The Gray Hall (Grå Hal) to prevent cannabis customers and other visitors from driving into Christiania and park their cars in its narrow streets. Only cargo transport is allowed through these gates. A downside to this was that it moved the problem to another part of Christiania further up the road where the residents now have blocked this entrance entirely until another road block robot will be installed. There are very few entrances to Christiania. With the two entrances blocked by road block robots the Christianites believe they can rid themselves from the problem of harassing traffic.

Gay House

Since the 1970s the Gay House (Bøssehuset), one of Christiania's autonomous institutions, had been a center for gay activism, parties and theatre. The humorous and artistically high-ranking variety-style shows still have fame among Copenhagen homosexuals.

In 2002 a group of young gay performers and activists, Dunst
Dunst (queer network in Copenhagen)
Dunst is a queer performance art and activist group in Copenhagen, Denmark. The group began in 2001 as an informal human network, but since 2004 it formally works as an association. Among its projects are art shows, dinner nights, performances, film nights, parties and political manifestations, as...

, were invited to take over the house so it could remain a centre for gay activity. Dunst introduced democratic management and established open workshops for photography, art, music, dance, video etc. They also arranged three 'Save Christiania' nights, a cabaret show and three support parties in order to be able to pay down some of the Gay House's debt to Christiania. According to Dunst, however, neighbours would never readily accept them and the newcomers were accused of not understanding "the Christiania lifestyle". Dunst claim they received verbal abuse, threatening letters and even in one instance, had a baseball bat brandished against them. Some disliked Dunst's loud parties, their contemporary electro-punk style music being described as techno
Techno is a form of electronic dance music that emerged in Detroit, Michigan in the United States during the mid to late 1980s. The first recorded use of the word techno, in reference to a genre of music, was in 1988...

. After 9 months, they were asked to leave Christiania.

In 2004 Dunst participated in 'Christiania Distortion', an event supportive of Christiania. As they could not make use of the Gay House, Dunst's part of the event took place in a bus circling around Christiania.

Eviction and riot

An eviction from the second floor of a house called Vadestedet on 29 October 2008 led to a day of rioting which included the blockade of a bridge for 25 minutes.
The next day, Christianites were at work reconstructing the second floor.

Grenade attack

On 24 April 2009, a 22-year-old man had his jaw blown off by a grenade thrown into the crowds seated at Cafe Nemoland. Four or five others had minor back and leg injuries. A perpetrator has not been found.


Since its opening, Christiania has been famous for its open cannabis trade, taking place in the aptly named and centrally located 'Pusher Street'. Although illegal, authorities were for many years reluctant to forcibly stop the hash trade. Proponents thought that concentrating the hash trade at one place would limit its dispersion in society, and that it could prevent users from switching to 'harder drugs'. Some wanted to legalize hash altogether. Opponents thought the ban should be enforced, in Christiania as elsewhere, and that there should be no differentiation between 'soft' and 'hard' drugs. It has also been claimed that the open cannabis trade was one of Copenhagen's major tourist attractions, while some said it scared other potential tourists away. Even though the police have attempted to stop the drug trade, the cannabis market is still thriving in Christiania.

Eviction of 'hard drugs'

One of the most significant community accomplishments in the history of Christiania was the 'junk blockade' in November 1979. The government was still very hostile but the community faced other acute challenges as well. Many Christiania residents were interested in mind-altering techniques, including psychotropic substances. During the late 1970s 'hard drugs' such as heroin were considered permissible, but this had grave consequences. In one year, from 1978 to 1979, ten people had died in Christiania from drug overdose; four of them were residents there. Most of them lived in a building called 'The Arc of Peace', which was in an extreme level of disrepair. Doors were missing, there were holes in the floors, and in most rooms there was no furniture except mattresses. It was a terribly unhealthy environment and the Christianites became increasingly aware that the situation could not continue.

An attempt was made to cooperate with the police in order to get rid of the heroin pushers, which was something many Christianites felt extremely uncomfortable about due to their anarchical tradition and the continuous clashes between Christiania and the police. Despite the shared feelings of distrust, however, some Christianites felt there was no other way to fix such problem, and supplied the police with a list of suspected 'hard drug' users. The intention of the Christianites' decision was made very clear: police were to concentrate only on 'hard drugs'. This did not happen, and instead the police ignored the Christianites' requests and made a large crackdown only on the hash network, oddly leaving the heroin ring untouched.

The police gave the names of "cooperating Christianites" to the hash dealers, and they had to leave Christiania for fear of reprisals.

Feeling betrayed and bitter the Christianites decided not to cooperate any further with the authorities, and instead launched what was to be known as the Junk Blockade. For 40 days and nights the Christianites—men, women, and children—patrolled 'The Arc of Peace' and whenever they found junkies or pushers they gave them an ultimatum: either quit all activities with hard drugs or leave Christiania. In the end, the pushers were forced to leave, and sixty people entered drug rehabilitation.

It is part of the Christiania mythology that there are no 'hard drugs' consumed in Christiania anymore, but cocaine and speed is found to be among more and more visitors. It is still not being sold in Pusher Street though. The increase in the use of cocaine, amphetamines and other substances has been on the rise for the past decade and is problem all over Denmark. It does affect Christiania as well, but the ban on hard drugs is still guiding the recreational activities in the community. People in Christiania deal with it frequently but are still willing to keep the community open and their values intact.

Biker gang eviction

Around 1984 a Copenhagen-resident biker gang called Bullshit arrived in Christiania and took control of a part of the cannabis market. Violence in the neighborhood increased and many Christianites felt unsafe and unhappy with the new residents. This resulted in sabotage acts directed towards the bikers as well as the publication of several provocative manuscripts urging the Christianites to throw out the powerful and armed bikers. This tension culminated when the police found a murdered individual who had been sliced to pieces and buried beneath the floor of a building. Christiania reacted with two colossal community meetings—one outside the building—where it was agreed that the bikers had to leave.
The Hells Angels recently had established themselves in Copenhagen and the leaders of Bullshit were murdered in a war over the drug trade in Copenhagen including Christiania.
A biker war between the Hells Angels and rival gangs over the drug trade continued in Copenhagen from the murder of the leader of Bullshit, 'Makrel', who controlled the cannabis trade in Christiania, through to 1995.

Action against open drug selling

Since its opening in 1971, the open drug trade of Christiania was a thorn in the side of Danish authorities, a constant source of public discussion, and led to protests from neighbouring countries as well (especially Sweden with its no-tolerance drug policy). When the centre-right cabinet of Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Cabinet of Anders Fogh Rasmussen I
After the 2001 Danish parliamentary election, Anders Fogh Rasmussen was able form a government coalition of his own Liberal Party Venstreand the Conservative People's Party. It was a minority government with the parliamentary support of the Danish People's Party. The resulting cabinet is called the...

 took office in 2001, one of its promises was to end illegal activities at Christiania. These were, including the obvious cannabis market, a long list of alleged criminal activities; the politicians demanded the end of 'hard drugs' sales, such as cocaine and amphetamines, weapons trade, dealing with contraband etc. The Christiania residents claim them to be purely speculative accusations and that they are obviously based upon sinister rumors and political spin to take the focus away from the real meaning of the Freetown. It is observed to be another weapon in the government's fight against the community and the "normalization" of the area. It is a common left-wing observation that by emphasizing the most illegal part of the Freetown (the Cannabis trade) and associating it with the local rockers, street gangs and other groups of criminal intent, the basis of the community becomes more confusing to the public, causing sympathy for the Freetown to drop. As of 2010 this tactic has not scared the tourists away.

In 2002, the government began aiming to make the cannabis trade less visible. In response, the cannabis sellers covered their stands in military camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

 nets as a humorous reply. On January 4, 2004, the stands were finally demolished by the cannabis dealers the day before a large scale police operation. They knew about this operation, and decided to take the stands down themselves. The police made more than twenty arrests in the following weeks, and a large part of the organised dealer network of Pusher Street was then eliminated. Before they were demolished, the National Museum of Denmark
National Museum of Denmark
The National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen is Denmark’s largest museum of cultural history, comprising the histories of Danish and foreign cultures, alike. The museum's main domicile is located a short distance from Strøget at the center of Copenhagen. It contains exhibits from around the world,...

 was able to get one of the more colourful stands, which is now part of an exhibit.

On March 16, 2004, police raided the area. Allegedly, many dealers started to move huge amounts of cannabis out into Copenhagen and the rest of the country instead. This was done in order to avoid the heavy police-presence in Christiania and to meet the demand for cannabis by customers. According to both police and other sources the number of marijuana clubs in Copenhagen grew rapidly to at least five times as many as before the police crackdown on Pusher Street, and in these clubs the sale of hash was mixed with other drugs such as amphetamine
Amphetamine or amfetamine is a psychostimulant drug of the phenethylamine class which produces increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite.Brand names of medications that contain, or metabolize into, amphetamine include Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat,...

, cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

, ecstasy and GHB
Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid
γ-Hydroxybutyric acid , also known as 4-hydroxybutanoic acid and sodium oxybate when used for medicinal purposes, is a naturally occurring substance found in the central nervous system, wine, beef, small citrus fruits, and almost all animals in small amounts. It is also categorized as an illegal...

. Especially in the northwestern part of the city (Nørrebro
Nørrebro is one of the 10 official districts of Copenhagen, Denmark. It is northwest of the city centre, beyond the location of the old Northern Gate , which, until dismantled in 1856, was near the current Nørreport station.-Geography:...

 and the Nordvest
Bispebjerg is one of the 10 official districts of Copenhagen, Denmark. It lies on the north border of the municipality. It covers an area of 5.39 km², has a population of 40,033, and a population density of 7,389 per km²....

 borough) many clubs arrived and were controlled by armed gangs who had long tried to enter the cannabis sales in Christiania. The gang responsible for the shootings of 2005 was one of these. See above: 2005 shooting and murder

The open cannabis trade has since returned to the way it was before the 2004 raids.

Businesses and Associations

Christiania has become home to several ventures such as carpenters, blacksmiths, a bikeshop, as well as several cafés, restaurants, jazz, blues and night clubs, galleries, music venues and a 24/7 bakery. There is also a small bazaar in front of Pusher Street with small vendors and pipe sellers.

Byens Lys
The local cinema and conference room.

Christiania Bikes
A bike manufacturer, inventors of the renowned Christiania and Pedersen bikes.

Christiania Børneteater/Christiania Jazz Club
Though mostly a jazz club this, the smallest venue in Christiania was originally a Kid's Theatre (Børneteater) which now also houses an electric blues club and an alternative hip hop jam.

Christiania Merchandise
Merchandise and souvenir shop.

Christiania Radio
The local radio station.

Christiania TV
The local television station. Marked: Denmark TV.

Organic fruit and vegetable market, as well as a small café with a lunch buffet.

Commonly called Indkøberen, the grocery store of Christiania which deals predominantly with organic and fair-trade products. With over 2000 organic products in store the Christiania Grocery is one of the most specialized in Copenhagen.

This small vegetarian restaurant in one of Christiania's more peaceful areas, the name meaning The Morning Place, is a former community kitchen. It has run as a collective for more than 20 years (as of 2009) dealing primarily with Danish organic food products.

The Women's Blacksmith.

One of Christiania's oldest music venues is Musikloppen ("The Music Flea") or Loppen for short. It was founded as a jazz club in 1973 where it soon attracted more modern influences such as rock and rhythm'n'blues. This overtook the small music venue which, due to its popularity, changed its course and has since 1974 established itself as one of the oldest rock venues in Copenhagen. Since 2000 the venue has enjoyed support from the Cultural Department in allowing the venue to flourish in the more endangered part of the music scene; independent and alternative rock bands are in high esteem at the venue. Underground bands as well as many well known bands from all over the world have played on the small, intimate stage at Loppen. The venue can fit up to 450 people in the 100 sqm room which is renowned for its low wooden ceiling and massive, wooden support pillars. With more than 20 opening days in a month, eight months a year the Loppen is one the busiest music venues in the capital. It is driven by a large collective of activists from in and around Christiania. Experimentation is an important part of the venue and often done with great effort.

Café and outdoor music venue. Originally the local green store managed by a friend of Christiania, named Nemo, where he used the old military facilities in the ramparts at the outskirts of Christiania as storage.

The Opera is an old brick-layered building in the upper end of Pusher Street. Here you find the club named Operaen (The Opera) which is both a music venue, night club and assembly place for the Christianites as well as frequent visitors, activists and the likes.


A cosy restaurant above the music venue Musikloppen.

Sunshine Bakery
The bakery and kiosk on Pusher Street, open 24/7 all year.

The Gray Hall
The largest concert hall in Christiania. It also has big community and press meetings as well as Christmas for the Homeless, Christmas Market and alternative exhibitions.

The Green Hall
Christiania's DIY shop. A large wooden building where one can purchase all the supplies needed to build a small house.

The local pub.


Although the Danish Krone
Danish krone
The krone is the official currency of the Kingdom of Denmark consisting of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. It is subdivided into 100 øre...

 is accepted on the streets of Christiania, the official currency is the Løn, which are minted each year. Locals are paid in Løns, and the coins can be used throughout the town. The Løn has been issued since 1997; previously Christianites used a currency called the Fed and, in one year, the Klump. Hemp tokens, also known as "Nemos", which could be exchanged for cannabis, were also in circulation.

Smoking ban

Because of Christiania's self-proclaimed "freetown" status, Danish laws banning smoking in public places (workplaces, restaurants, bars and clubs) are not enforced in Christiania.

Further developments

The open cannabis trade in Christiania has been hailed by some Danes and seen as a source of constant annoyance by others. The center-right government took a number of steps to enforce the law in Christiania. The first step in this process was a police crackdown on the cannabis trade. Both politicians and police declared that the cannabis trade would not be allowed to return. The second (and currently ongoing) phase is the registration of all buildings in Christiania. The third step will be the demolition of a number of wooden private residences situated in a nature conservation area (the historic naval fortress of Copenhagen). These buildings had all been approved by the authorities before the new government passed the current law on Christiania. For the last 15 years the government has not allowed construction in Christiania. This is now being enforced on a zero-tolerance policy with the help of a massive police presence. This is regarded by Christiania community as a government strategy to undermine the collective self-government of Christiania. They believe the government is planning to sell out building rights to private enterprises, in an attempt to force the freetown to accept the paradigm of private ownership and market capitalization of private property. The 900 or so inhabitants of Christiania have staked a claim for collective rights of use to all of Christiania, but this has been ignored by the government..

Governmental normalisation measures

In 2004, the Danish government passed a law abolishing the collective and treating its 900 members as individuals. Beginning in the summer of 2005, a series of protests were staged by Christiania members. During the same time, Danish police have made frequent sweeps of the area.

The Christiania Café Månefiskeren set up a board recording the number of police patrols on Christiania in November 2005. In the summer of 2006 this passed the 1000th patrol (about 4–6 patrols a day). These patrols normally consisted of 6 to 20 police officers, often dressed in combat uniform and sometimes with police dogs.

This has, however, not affected the street prices of cannabis in- or out-side of Christiania. There has been no notable change in the rate of "regular crime" in the area.

In January 2006, the government proposed that Christiania would be turned into a mixed alternative community and residential area adding condominium
A condominium, or condo, is the form of housing tenure and other real property where a specified part of a piece of real estate is individually owned while use of and access to common facilities in the piece such as hallways, heating system, elevators, exterior areas is executed under legal rights...

s for 400 new residents. Current residents, now paying DKK
Danish krone
The krone is the official currency of the Kingdom of Denmark consisting of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. It is subdivided into 100 øre...

 1450 (USD 250) per month, would be allowed to remain but need to begin paying normal rent for the facilities, albeit below market rent levels. Christiania has rejected this scenario, fearing the freetown would turn into a normal Copenhagen neighbourhood. In particular, the concept of privately owned dwellings is claimed to be incompatible with Christiania's collective ownership.

In September 2007, the representatives of Christiania and Copenhagen's city council reached an agreement to cede control of Christiania to the city over the course of 10 years for the purposes of business development. Also, as of May 2009, the Eastern High Court
Courts of Denmark
The Danish Supreme Court is the highest civil and criminal court responsible for the administration of justice in Denmark. The Kingdom of Denmark, consisting of Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, does not have a single unified judicial system – Denmark has one system, Greenland another, and...

 upheld a 2004 Act of Parliament which reaffirmed the state's legal claim to control of the base.

Quotes from politicians

The Minister of Finance from the Liberal Party (Venstre), part of the then ruling coalition, who to the question in parliament whether the new buildings at Christiania were only economically motivated, answered:

Architectural competition

In order to present a reasonable use of area after an eventual "cleaning", the Danish government commissioned an architectural competition. 17 proposals were received, of which only eight have met the formal competition requirements. All of the proposals were rejected by the jury. The cost of the architectural competition was 850,000 Danish Kroner (113,900 EUR, 177,700 USD, 89,500 GBP).

Christiania's development plan

Christiania has countered the government's plans for normalisation with its own community driven planning proposal, which after 8 months of internal workshops and meetings gained consensus at the common meeting before being published in early 2006.
Christiania's own development plan was awarded the Initiative Award of the Society for the Beautification of Copenhagen in November 2006 and the plan has received positive attention from the municipality of Copenhagen and the Agenda 21 Society for its sustainability goals and democratic process.

See also

  • Christianshavn
    Christianshavn is an artificial island neighbourhood located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in the early 17th century by Christian IV as part of his extension of the fortifications of Copenhagen. Originally it was laid out as an independent privileged merchant's town with inspiration from...

  • List of anarchist communities
  • Ungdomshuset
    Ungdomshuset was the popular name of the building formally named Folkets Hus located on Jagtvej 69 in Nørrebro, Copenhagen, which functioned as an underground scene venue for music and rendezvous point for varying autonomen and leftist groups from 1982 until 2007 when—after prolonged conflict—it...

  • Kingdom of Elleore
    Kingdom of Elleore
    The Kingdom of Elleore is a micronation located on the island of Elleore in the Roskilde Fjord, north of Roskilde on the Danish island of Zealand.The island was purchased by a group of Copenhagen schoolteachers in 1944 for use as a summer camp...

  • Squatting
    Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use....

  • Ruigoord
    Ruigoord is a former island and a village in the Houtrakpolder in the IJ meer in the Dutch province of North Holland. It is a part of the municipality of Amsterdam, and lies about 8 km east of Haarlem....

  • Christianshavn Station
    Christianshavn station
    Christianshavn Station is a rapid transit station on the Copenhagen Metro, served by the M1 and M2 lines. The station is located centrally in the Christianshavn district. It is located in fare zone 1 and opened in 2002. It is notable for having a different layout than other underground stations on...

External links

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