A Very Special Day…

for Denmark, for Copenhagen, for Christiania and for me!

A short history of Christiania : to quote Wikipedia “Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania (Danish: Fristaden Christiania) is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents, covering 34 hectares (85 acres) in the borough of Christianshavn in the Danish capital Copenhagen. Civic authorities in Copenhagen regard Christiania as a large commune, but the area has a unique status in that it is regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989 which transfers parts of the supervision of the area from the municipality of Copenhagen to the state. It was closed by residents in April 2011, whilst discussions continue with the Danish government as to its future, but is now open again. ”

Christiania began 40 years ago today when some of the homeless in Denmark moved into an abandoned barracks and took over some of the buildings for homes and also built some homes in the grounds. It’s development over the years has been a chequered history with a mixture of beautiful peaceful areas, progressive living and parenting, vegetarianism, bicycles and arts and crafts side by side with the sale of and acceptance of soft drugs, a ban on hard drugs, some violence and a murder (drug related) and battles with the police and government.

My first visit to Christiania was in 1973, two years into the experiment, and I loved it. The people were warm and welcoming, the cafes sold delicious food at reasonable prices and the culture was fascinating. I have spent a lot of time in Copenhagen over the years and every visit has included a trip to Christiania. I bought a Christiania bike there. I even spent my 50th birthday there. The Danish Government has at times tried to regulate the drug market and in doing so caused many other problems to arise, impose rent and rates on the residents and latterly to close it down. But Christiania has survived and today it celebrated its 40th birthday in a very special way.

Quote from the Christiania website

“After 40 years of struggle and 10 years worth of exhausting negotiations, Christiania has managed to negotiate an agreement with the Danish state. A new Christiania
fund will purchase the majority of the buildings in the area for the sum of 76 mil. DKK. and rent the surrounding green areas for 6 mil. DKK per year.
Christiania has fought to maintain the Freetown as the property of everyone and no one. The agreement ensures that the housing in Christiania remains free of
speculation, the way it should be. Christiania is public heritage.
Regardless of the loan that now needs to be paid, Christiania must continue to contribute to Denmark and Copenhagen. Christiania must continually be able
to embrace the millions of guests from home and abroad, be a self-managing experiment and an unruly urban park. We must include those who are not accepted
anywhere else, create quirky culture and build beautiful houses that even the underprivileged can afford to live in.
The Freetown needs help shouldering this task, and that is why Christiania has issued the Christiania shares with the goal of raising 76 mil. DKK (roughly 10 mil.
Euro) to support the buyout through the Fund for the Freetown of Christiania.”

The shares do not offer the buyers ownership of any part of Christiania and cannot be traded like normal shares but are a kind of donation to fund its continuation and support its goals and as such I was proud to be able to buy some this afternoon.

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2 thoughts on “A Very Special Day…

  1. Ah! I caught the end of a Radio 4 broadcast about Chrisiania at the weekend and was enthralled. It sounds like a great place to live and a fine example that more places would to well to follow. I’m more than a tad envious that you’ve visited there, and would love a bike with a box!

    • My bike is a Christiania Pedersen, not the Christiania Trike with the box but I would quite like one of those too! I thought I could put Nino in the box and pedal to the park, you could take the kids and Archie if you got one! The Radio 4 broadcast was quite good, once they decided how to pronounce Christiania.

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