One highly controversial and intriguing part of the capital of Denmark is Freetown Christiania, a small commune of about 875 residents that has proclaimed itself as completely independent from the state. It was founded in 1971 on the area where the former military barracks of Badsmandsstraede was built. Some claim that it was a result of student protests and uprising during the period, others say it was the citizenry’s answer to the issue of homelessness in Denmark at the time.
Although it was envisioned by its founders to be a place where the residents are “responsible for the wellbeing of the entire community” the ideal was far from the reality – Christiania soon became an enclave for squatters, anarchists and infamous for its open trading of cannabis. Because of its growing negative reputation and the violence in the area, it was closed down by the residents themselves in the spring of 2011. However, it was re-opened and is one of Denmark’s popular and unique tourist attractions.
Residents of the community are called “Christianits” and the official currency is the Lon, although the Danish Krone is also accepted as legal tender. Guided tours are being offered to visitors who would want a glimpse of a community that thrives on an “alternative lifestyle.” Similar to other communities, Christiania does have a thriving commercial life, with a number of local shops, cafes and restaurants, a grocery store, its own radio and TV stations, art galleries and performance venues.
The Musikloppen, for instance, is one of Copenhagen’s happening places where rock bands from all over the world have come to perform. There are also events and local festivals observed by its residents such as its Founding Anniversary and the Christmas Market. The gay house in Christiania also provides events and activities for the LGBT community.