Christiania in Copenhagen


Christiania in Copenhagen

                      This photo of Christiania is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I was just reading an article in the Guardian travel section that according to some surveys, Copenhagen is the happiest city in the world. This happy feeling is especially present in Christiania.

Christiania in Copenhagen

                        This photo of Christiania is courtesy of TripAdvisor

This area located in Christianshavn is a self proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood which is home to about 850 residents. It's a bit of a controversial area, with a turbulent history.

Christiania in Copenhagen

                      This photo of Christiania is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Christiania sits on the grounds of old military barracks that were left empty in till early 70s. In 1971 neighbouring residents broke down the fence and took over the ground to turn it into a playground for their kids. This action was a form of protest against the government for the lack of affordable housing and was the beginning of the free-town. It slowly became a self-contained society within the Danish society with its own rules and ideals. For a while the government just kept a blind eye to the antics that were going on here. (Read drug trading) But later on police would regularly raid Christiania which resulted in several riots. Eventually conflicts between the residents and the state led to the closure of the free town, however in 2011 the residents bought the ground from the state which made the area a legal independent, mini society.

Christiania in Copenhagen

                    This photo of Christiania is courtesy of TripAdvisor

A visit to Christiania is like walking around a version of Amsterdam on steroids. The scent of marijuana lingers in the air, there are bikes strewn along the sides of the streets and walls are covered in colourful graffiti drawings. Besides the old army barracks the streets are lined with DIY residences, some looking more sturdy than others. They range from colourful caravans to ramshackle sheds to homes, but I also saw a home that wouldn't look out of place on the TV show Grand Designs. I spotted dogs and kids running around the marijuana plants and zen looking Buddha statues while mom and dad were roasting a pig in the front yard. I even walked past an actual Buddhist shrine standing on the corner of street.                      

Christiania in Copenhagen
                      This photo of Christiania is courtesy of TripAdvisor

On the main street which is aptly called Pusher Street, marijuana is traded freely in the market stalls, but you can also find other items here such as tie-dye shirts, crazy button pins and Christianite works of art. It's like taking a stroll through the 70s which certainly did put a smile on my face. No wonder they say that Copenhagen is the happiest place in the world, which probably goes especially for the Christianites.

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