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Christiania (part 1 of 2)

Through Copenhagen Business School we have gone on several tours and excursions including a Jazz Festival night, a guided tour of the Danish Design Center, the Oslo trip, and our Copenhagen Canal Tour. We were also taken on a guided tour of Christiania, a sort of hippie communal area in Copenhagen on the man-made island of Christianshavn.

The tour was actually quite fascinating and certainly better than I expected. Our tour guide has been living in Christiania for over 30 years. He rolled his own cigarettes continually through the tour. Luckily, we were outside for most of the tour. His fly was down the whole time, and it almost seemed as if he would pass out a time or two. All of this added to the atmosphere–an atmosphere that was already other worldly.

The Church of Our Saviour copenhagen denmark

One of the main entrances to Christiania can be found near the “Church of Our Saviour” on Christianshavn. This church is recognizable for its golden spiral steeple. You can actually walk the 400 steps to the top for about $4 between about April and October.

graffiti in copenhagen denmark

One thing that is very surprising about Denmark is the amount of graffiti. There is far more here than in, say, California and probably even more than what I’ve seen in Mexico (including Mexico City). I’m almost getting used to it. The Danes seem very used to it and don’t seem to mind it a bit.

Some of it is the more “dirty graffiti” like above. I’ll show you a few pictures from Christiania of the more “art graffiti” style below and in tomorrow’s entry. Christiania has tons of graffiti. It covers nearly everything.

“Very Metal” is the name of the art exhibit that is going on in Christiania. The exhibit features sculptures made out of metal.

the laws of christiania in copenhagen denmark

Christiania has had bad experiences with biker gangs in the past. The above shows their laws. There doesn’t seem to be many laws beyond the above. Notice that it says “No hard drugs.” Marijuana can certainly be seen in Christiana (both being grown and being smoked). There was a crackdown a few years back, but we saw lots of it on our tour.

For instance, there was a guy standing buck naked (having just finished his bath) outside of the public bathhouse smoking a huge joint as we walked by. There is a street called “Pusher Street” in which photography is not allowed. Evidently, the dealers don’t want their pictures taken. All sorts of vendors are on this street selling drug paraphernalia. I’m guessing that you can buy weed from these vendors even though it is now illegal. I think it was legal until recently.

copenhagen denmark graffiti art

The above photograph is one, of many, of the nicer graffiti works that can be seen in Christiania (and Copenhagen in general).

house that is only a roof in copenhagen denmark

The Danish government seems to be slowly trying to regulate and take back Christiania. One of the newer laws is that nothing new can be built in Christiania. Roof work can be legally done. So the guy who built the above house tried to get around the law (and apparently has done so since it is still standing) by building a house that is nothing but a roof.

german banana house copenhagen denmark

German carpenters have been coming to Freetown Christiania for a long time and helping with the building and repairs of various things including a bridge or two. They have also created the above “Banana House.”

christiania copenhagen denmark

Although much of Christiania is not pretty to look at with all of the ugly graffiti, garbage, run down buildings, broken beer bottles in the road, etc. other portions are actually quite beautiful. There are many home-made houses tucked away in woodsy areas or along the water that people would probably pay top dollar to purchase. No real estate can be bought or sold here though.

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