There are a handful of basic rules: no cars, no hard drugs, no guns, no explosives, and so on. A few "luxury hippies" have oil heat, but most use wood or gas. The community has one mailing address. A phone chain provides a system of communal security because, as people there report, they've had bad experiences calling the police. As a reminder of the constant police presence lately, my favorite Christiania café, Månefiskeren ("Moon Fisher"), has a sign outside saying: "The world's safest café — police raids nearly every day."
And an amazing thing has happened: Christiania — famous for counter-culture scene, geodesic domes on its back streets, and vegetarian cafés — has become the third-most-visited sight among tourists in Copenhagen. Move over, Little Mermaid.
I recently got an email from some traveling readers. They said, "We're not prudes, but Christiania was creepy. Don't take kids here or go after dark."
I agree. The free city is not pretty. But hanging out with parents raising their children with Christiania values and sharing a meal featuring home-grown vegetables with a couple born and raised in this community, I found a distinct human beauty in the place. And I came to believe more strongly than ever that it's important to allow this social experiment and give alternative-type people a place to live out their values.
About This Entry
You are reading "Exploring Christiania", an entry posted on 30 November 2009 by Rick Steves.