Christiania is a self-governing “free town” established in 1971, a city within the city, on the site of a military barracks as an alternative to mainstream culture. Cannabis is sold openly on stalls, and smoked openly throughout the area, despite it being illegal in Denmark. Nonetheless it’s quite safe and popular as a tourist site.
- Christiania was also a historical name of Oslo, capital of Norway.
Christiania is car free, and parking conditions outside can be hellish on good weather, so do what everyone else does and jump on a bike, if that doesn’t cut it, take public transit; there are two options:
- Take the metro to Christianshavn station, from there it is about a 6 minute walk (500m), when you exit the metro station continue straight ahead (south) until the 2nd intersection (there is a furniture store on the corner) turn left down (east) Prinsessegade and walk a couple of hundred meters, you won’t miss it, if you have any sort of idea what you are looking for.
- You can also bus opt for bus 9A, which stops right outside the entrance, it leaves from both Vesterport and the central station, about every 10 minutes for most of the day.
There are hundreds of buildings on Christiania, in all sorts of imaginative shapes, sizes and colours ranging from old army buildings dating back to the by-gone barrack days, to elaborate self-build homes. The best way to see them is just walking around sucking in the atmosphere. There is graffiti art everywhere, too. All the buildings have their own story. If you are friendly, open minded, a bit lucky, and outside the main tourist season, you can sometimes get locals to tell you the, often amazing, stories of their particular house; otherwise the regular walking tours are a good introduction to the main sights.
- 1 Fredens Ark (Ark of Peace), Fredens Eng. The Ark is not only the largest building on Christiania, it is also the largest half-timbered house in Northern Europe. Built in 1837, It was originally the main building of the barracks, with sleeping and officers quarters. Today around 80 people live in the protected building, and the lower levels are home of the ‘Rockmaskinen’ club which has occational events and the community’s social counseling (Herfra og videre)
- Mælkebøtten (The Dandelion), Langgaden. This cluster of buildings a good walk up Langgade, dates back to the middle of 19th century, and was previously the laboratory of the country department (Landetaten). The impressive gate-building is probably the finest of the old buildings on Christiania, and the wonderful contrast of the Buddhist Stupa in front makes a good photo, above the gate is King Christian IIV’s gold monogram. The whole complex is protected.
- Vilhelms Bastion (Børneengen), Nordområdet. Is one of the old bastions of the fortification on which Christiania is built, and has a set of protected buildings. Kommandørhuset is a pretty, yellow, half timbered house which used to serve as a guard building, the eave on the eastern side was extended to allow for the soldiers to stay dry during rain. It was supposedly built and constructed by an Italian architect. Another protected building here is the Krudthuset, the oldest building on the mound from 1665, which used to be a gunpowder store but is now used as a residence. The area is now used for many activities for the local kids, with a riding school, stables and playgrounds.
- Gallopperiet (Stadens Museum for Kunst, Christiania Art Museum), Sydområdet (In the). Tuesday-Sunday 14:00-19:00. A pun to the much more conformist “Statens Museum for Kunst” in downtown, Stadens (which is the colloquial name for Christiania) Museum for kunst is a gallery and book café with changing art exhibitions. It’s in the 2nd floor of the Loppen building which was a military storage building when it was constructed back in 1863. A good call, since the quite large and rustic exbition space, is a really pleasant place to breeze through.
- Galleri Leonard, Sydområdet. Variable opening hours. Painter’s workshop and exhibition in the ground floor of the “Loppen” building. It’s run by a local artists, and sometimes a makeshift stage for small concerts.