Christiania, also known as the Free State of Christiania is a
self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 1,000 residents, located in
the Christianshavn district in Copenhagen (Denmark).
Despite Christiania being considered a large
commune by Civic authorities in the country, it has a unique status since it is
regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989.
Christiania has been a source of
controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. The area
consists of the former military barracks of Bådsmandsstræde and parts of the
After the military
moved out there was sporadic trespassing of homeless people using the empty
buildings. On 4 September 1971, inhabitants of the surrounding neighborhood
broke down the fence to take over parts of the unused area as a playground for
Although the takeover
was not necessarily organized 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.
declared open on 26 September 1971 by Jacob Ludvigsen, a well-known “provo” and journalist who
published a magazine called Hovedbladet (“The main paper”). Ludvigsen
was co-author of Christiania's mission
statement, dating from 1971.
The spirit of Christiania quickly developed into one of the hippie
movement, the squatter movement, collectivism and anarchism, in contrast to the
site's previous military use.
Since its opening, Christiania has been famous for its open cannabis trade,
taking place in the famous “Pusher
Street”. Although illegal, authorities were for
many years reluctant to forcibly stop the hash trade. Finally, its cannabis
trade was prohibited by authorities in 2004. Since then, measures for
normalizing the legal status of the community have led to conflicts with the
police and the Danish authorities, and negotiations are ongoing.
As a sign of
rebellion and autonomy, Christiania has been producing its own coins since
1976. Unlike other local currencies, Christiania’s coins (denominated Løn) are
accepted by everyone at the Free
State and are regularly used as remuneration for the
purchase of goods and services and the payment of salaries. One Løn is the
equivalent of 50 Danish kroner.
The exchequer of
Christiania, effectively the Government of the Free State,
manages the currency and any surplus generated by the managing of the Løn is
reinvested in social and environmental projects in Christiania.