Drugs, anyone? The alternative community of Christiania, Denmark

Freetown Christiania is an alternative community in Copenhagen. It started in the 1970s  by homeless people squatting in the derelict buildings. They then started a self-governing hippy / anarchist community which is still thriving today.

The main central zone is shops, mostly selling drug paraphernalia, cafes, and an art-gallery. The main street is called Pusher Street, for a reason – it is lined with men selling marijuana and the air was thick with weed.Some of the men were giggling or grinning which was a little disconcerting. Each “pusher” stood behind a tall table, upon which was a display of weed. This was a completely new experience for me as I have never seen drugs being openly sold before. We strolled down the street and through a square with more pushers. I didn’t mind the pushers; they were there to sell, and apart from a few calls encouraging us to buy, they didn’t bother us at all. However there were a few “youths” in sportswear hanging around, which made me a little wary. They were probably fine but I was out of my comfort zone and wanted to have a quick look and get out! It is worth mentioning that drugs are very much illegal in Denmark.

We strolled around the rest of the site, which comprised pedestrian lanes to wander, with a couple of tall derelict-looking buildings which are no doubt squatter’s homes, and individual plots with wooden cabins built on them. The cabins ranged from shambolic-looking dwellings to beautiful wooden cabins, and peeking through the window from afar, you could see wooden floors and high designed lamps etc, just like any other home in Denmark. Some of the gardens had brand new garden fencing around to mark the territory.

The community reminded me of the film Wanderlust with Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd where they moved to an alternative hippy community. That was my closest reference!

I couldn’t take photos inside the site, so these shots are from the outside.

Drugs are illegal in Denmark so this raised questions like “how can the Police arrest someone for drugs in Denmark yet turn a blind eye to the drugs so openly sold here, which is also in Denmark?” Surely the Law should be fairly and equally applied to everyone?  Also, I was intrigued by the housing – I wonder how they decide who gets a large plot on which to build a beautiful wooden cabin, and who has to squat in a disused factory. Visiting here, so completely outside my normal world, made me realise how much I like fairness and order.

Before the holiday I had read advice on safety and this was one of the areas they advise you not to go in after dark. After I have got home my colleague told me that the place is run by the mafia.

Before leaving my husband wanted to go inside a building. There was a sign outside saying “Welcome to Wonderland” and I could hear loud music blaring inside. I was apprehensive, expecting a bar or a drugs den inside. I was astonished at what we found inside – the whole building was taken up with a large half-pipe for skateboarding! This was a lovely playful element – I guess in this alternative community you can have fun all day long 🙂

The sign on the way out said “you are now entering the EU”.

Overall, I wouldn’t visit at night, I wouldn’t take photos, but it is worth a visit if you are in Copenhagen. As my husband said, this is the most different and interesting place we have been for a while!

next blog: _______________

previous blog: Food in Copenhagen, Denmark.


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