Copenhagen – colours and resistance in Christiania
If you have ever been to Copenhagen, you have most definitely visited Christiania. If you are planning a trip to Copenhagen, Christiania might be on your to go list. It is a well-known area that is not just worth a visit for a bit of street art and graffiti, but there is more than that. Milenka tells us about Christiania.
In Copenhagen there is an autonomous area called Christiania – a Freetown as it is known for. It is an example of alternative society. There isn’t a mayor, election or Government, and there isn’t hierarchy. Everything is decided from meetings between residents. Nowadays around 800 people live in this occupied area. For the past 40 years they have been setting up an independent community with focus on auto-sustainability, ecological and green society with natural preserved spaces. For example: cars are not allowed. During its more than 40 years of existence, the Freetown still is a very hotly-discussed area.
Although Christiania is not the most famous spot to find street art, it still is a perfect destination for those who appreciate this kind of art. Christiania is covered with art, paintings, stickers and tags. It is on the walls, corners, trash trucks, recycle center, skatepark, stores and restaurants. In my opinion it is something that you can’t miss when you go to Copenhagen. It is different and unique. It is more than an open art gallery, Christiania is alive.
To understand how this special place in Denmark was created we have to go back to 70s. A group of hippies with different backgrounds, ages and social class, decided to occupy this disabled military area. The main idea was to create a community with freedom and autonomy. An area that stood against the system, especially in a time in Denmark after the Second World War.
Christiana became an example of which is often considered a utopia in our capitalist system. Also because of that, this occupied land was considered a political problem. The first victory for those that believe in living in a free place happened when the parliament considered Christiania as a social experiment. Since then things have changed and the area was once almost closed. In the 80’s, for example, Christiania suffered with a defamatory advertising made by the Danish Government. It was considered this area as a center of drugs in the North of Europe. As a consequence of that, the community decided to kick out drug dealers and drug addicts. It was from now on forbidden to use heavy drugs like heroin. Soft drugs are tolerated and this subject is very recurrent in paintings and murals.
Maybe the most controversial and talked about area is the Green Light District. In this area it is possible to buy weed and hash in the famous Pusher Street. It is however strictly forbidden to take pictures or make videos. There is always someone keeping an eye on that, so don’t try it. As a visitor you must respect that the town is free but this practice still is illegal in Denmark. In fact, it is in this area where you can find very interesting graffiti on the walls.
When you cross this busy street, there’s an area with restaurants, bars and an event stage called Nemoland. This stage provides free gigs and concerts during summertime weekends. Nemoland is dedicated to the underground and alternative scene. It is also near to the Green District where you can find a lake and an incredible green area to chill and relax.
This colourful neighbourhood in the heart of the capital of Denmark has bars, restaurants, a museum, art studios, carpentry, alternative emergency, sauna, a hotch-potch of warehouses, huts and ecologic houses, murals and outdoor sculptures. Christiana has its own currency called the Løn (although it is possible to use Danish kroner), and their own flag.
It seems to be for everybody with any kind of distinction. This land has a special energy. It’s a life story of resistance and a life experience. There are a lot of spots to discover. Houses with green roofs, gardens, indoor skatepark, its amazing architecture, and so much more.
To know more about this important chapter of a Danish culture, you can also check the Christiania – 40 years of occupation documentary.
– Milenka Salinas –