Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen

When in Copenhagen a visit to Freetown Christiania is certainly an experience and as the first and last time that I visited I was pushing my baby daughter in her pram, so was curious to see it again. Back in 1971 a group of artists and squatters took over an abandoned military barracks, setting up what most would describe as a ‘hippy commune’ though they describe as a ‘social experiment’ with their own society rules and was said to be “beyond the reach of Danish law” by its founders, which of course it isn’t and has increasingly regular police raids.

From folklore I was under the impression that the overt drug dealing/selling was tolerated but this is not the case at all. Entering the central Green Light District that houses a stage, handful of cafés and ‘tat’ market, photography is not allowed (“buying and selling hash is still illegal”) and nor is running (“it causes panic” i.e. police raid) or talking on mobile phones (camera possibility) and these instructions are to be taken seriously.

Graffiti art is everywhere, the commune is litter-free clean and the residents make good use of military camouflage netting to cover all but a tiny sales window of the drugs stalls that are manned by half-masked, hoodie wearing vendors and even at 10am, the stench of drugs was overwhelming, to the point of feeling physically ill but, it did surprise me that selling was actively persuasive.

We headed into Frankies, the nearest café and somewhere I thoroughly recommend; spotlessly clean bare brick walls and bleached wooden tables, a gleaming Italian espresso machine and homemade bread-rolls, and a proprietor who was happy to explain and discuss his outlook and philosophy in choosing to living this lifestyle.

Worth a visit ? Definitely for curiosity. Did I enjoy the experience? A thumping headache plus a daylong taste and smell from secondary inhalation; NO, not in the slightest but for those who support the freedom to choose to live in this way it is possible to help fund the community with the purchase Christiania Shares…