Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania (Danish: Fristaden Christiania or Staden), is a self-proclaimed autonomousanarchist district of about 850 to 1,000 residents, covering 34 hectares (84 acres) in the borough of Christianshavn in the Danish capital city of Copenhagen. It was temporarily closed by residents in April 2011 while discussions continued with the Danish government about its future, but then re-opened to the public. Christiania has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. Its cannabis trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004. In the years following 2004, measures for normalizing the legal status of the community led to conflicts, police raids and negotiations.

HISTORY

Barracks and ramparts
The area of Christiania consists of the former military barracks of Bådsmandsstræde and parts of the city ramparts. The ramparts and the borough of Christianshavn (then a separate city) were established in 1617 by King Christian IV by reclaiming the low beaches and islets between Copenhagen and Amager. After the siege of Copenhagen during wars with Sweden, the ramparts were reinforced during 1682 to 1692 under Christian V to form a complete defence ring. The western ramparts of Copenhagen were demolished during the 19th century, but those of Christianshavn were allowed to remain. They are today considered among the finest surviving 17th century defence works in the world.

The barracks of Bådsmandsstræde housed the Royal Artillery Regiment, the Army Materiel Command and ammunition laboratories and depots. Less used after World War II, the barracks were abandoned between 1967 and 1971.
The adjacent area to the north, Holmen, was Denmark's main naval base until the 1990s. It is an area in development, home to the new Copenhagen Opera House (not to be confused with the first and still existing venue called "Operaen", a concert venue in Christiania) and schools. An area further north is still used by the navy, but open to the public during daytime.
The outermost defence line, Enveloppen, has been renamed Dyssen in Christiania language (except for the southernmost tip of it which was not annexed by Christiania). It is connected to central Christiania by a bridge across the main moat or can be reached by the path beginning at Christmas Møllers Plads. Four gunpowder storehouses line the redans. They were built 1779-80 to replace a storage in central Copenhagen, at Østerport, which exploded infamously in 1770, killing 50 people. The buildings are renamed Aircondition, Autogena, Fakirskolen (The Fakir School) and Kosmiske Blomst (Cosmic Flower) and have, although protected, been slightly altered from their historical state. The last Danish execution site, active from 1946 to 1950, can still be seen on the Second Redan close to the building called Aircondition.The wooden execution shed is gone, but the concrete foundation and a drain for the blood remain just next to the path. In total, 29 World War II criminals were executed on the site. The last was Ib Birkedal, a high-level Danish Gestapo collaborator, on 20 July 1950.

Building and area protection
Glass house in Freetown Christiania, one of the many idiosyncratic constructions exemplifying modern "architecture without architects". In 2007, the National Heritage Agency proposed protection status for some of the ancient military buildings, now in Christiania. These are:
- Den grå hal ('The grey hall'), formerly a riding house with a unique Bohlendach roof construction, now Christiania's largest concert venue
- Den grønne hal ('The green hall'), originally a smaller riding house
- Mælkebøtten ('The dandelion')
- The Commander's house, a half-timbered building
- The 17th and 18th century powder magazines on the bastions.
Some of the historic buildings have been altered somewhat after Christiania's takeover.

Founding of Christiania

After the military moved out, the area was only guarded by a few watchmen and there was sporadic trespassing of homeless people using the empty buildings. On 4 September 1971, inhabitants of the surrounding neighborhood broke down the fence to take over parts of the unused area as a playground for their children.
Although the takeover was not necessarily organized in the beginning, some claim this happened as a protest against the Danish government. At the time there was a lack of affordable housing in Copenhagen.
On 26 September 1971, Christiania was declared open by Jacob Ludvigsen, a well-known provo and journalist who published a magazine called Hovedbladet ('The main paper'), which was intended for and successfully distributed to mostly young people. In the paper, Ludvigsen wrote an article in which he and five others went on exploration into what he termed 'The Forbidden City of the Military'. The article widely announced the proclamation of the free town, and among other things he wrote the following under the headline Civilians conquered the 'forbidden city' of the military: ''Christiania is the land of the settlers. It is the so far biggest opportunity to build up a society from scratch - while nevertheless still incorporating the remaining constructions. Own electricity plant, a bath-house, a giant athletics building, where all the seekers of peace could have their grand meditation - and yoga center. Halls where theater groups can feel at home. Buildings for the stoners who are too paranoid and weak to participate in the race...Yes for those who feel the beating of the pioneer heart there can be no doubt as to the purpose of Christiania. It is the part of the city which has been kept secret to us - but no more.'' Ludvigsen was co-author of Christiania's mission statement, dating from 1971, which offers the following: ''The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the wellbeing of the entire community. Our society is to be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration is to be steadfast in our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted.''
The spirit of Christiania quickly developed into one of the hippie movement, the squatter movement, collectivism and anarchism, in contrast to the site's previous military use. The 1976 protest song I kan ikke slå os ihjel (translated: "You cannot kill us"), written by Tom Lunden of flower power rock group Bifrost, became the unofficial anthem of Christiania.

The community

Meditation and yoga have always been popular among the Christianites, and for many years Christiania had their own internationally acclaimed theater group Solvognen. Christiania is considered to be the fourth largest tourist attraction in Copenhagen (and it has half a million visitors annually); and abroad it is a well-known "brand" for the supposedly progressive and liberated Danish lifestyle. Many Danish businesses and organizations also use Christiania as a show place for their foreign friends and guests. The purpose is to show something Danish that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, independent of the Danish government. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs and bikers' colors.

Riots over demolition of house

On May 14, 2007, workers from the governmental Forest and Nature Agency, accompanied by police, entered Christiania to demolish leftovers of the small, abandoned building of Cigarkassen ('the cigar box'). They were met by angry and frightened Christianites, fearing that the police also intended to demolish other houses. The residents built roadblocks, but the police eventually entered the Freetown en masse and were met by resistance.
2005 shooting and murder

Cars
Within Christiania itself no private cars are allowed. However, a total of 132 cars are owned by residents and need to be parked on the streets surrounding the Freetown. After negotiating with city authorities, Christiania has agreed to establish parking areas for residents' own cars on its territory. As of 2005, parking space for only 14 cars had been established within the area.
Gay House
Since the 1970s, the Gay House (Bøssehuset), one of Christiania's autonomous institutions, had been a center for gay activism, parties, and theatre. The humorous and artistically high-ranking variety-style shows still have fame among Copenhagen homosexuals.
Posterior problems
On 24 April 2009, a 22-year-old man had his jaw blown off by a hand grenade thrown into the crowds seated at Cafe Nemoland. Four or five others had minor back and leg injuries. A perpetrator has not been found. On 31 August 2016, a person believed to be carrying the day's earnings from cannabis sales suddenly pulled a gun during a routine arrest and shot two police officers and a civilian.

Drugs

Eviction of 'hard drugs'
Biker gang eviction
Action against open drug selling

Further developments

The open cannabis trade in Christiania has been hailed by some Danes and seen as a source of constant annoyance by others. The center-right government took a number of steps to enforce the law in Christiania.
- Governmental normalization measures
- Quotes from politicians
- Architectural competition
- Christiania's development plan
Christiania has countered the government's plans for normalization with its own community driven planning proposal, which after eight months of internal workshops and meetings gained consensus at the common meeting before being published in early 2006. Christiania's own development plan was awarded the Initiative Award of the Society for the Beautification of Copenhagen in November 2006.The plan has received positive attention from the municipality of Copenhagen and the Agenda 21 Society for its sustainability goals and democratic process.

The flag

The flag of Christiania is a red banner with three yellow discs representing the dots in the "i"s in "Christiania". The colors were supposedly chosen because when the original squatters took over the former military base, they reportedly found a large amount of red and yellow paint.

In fiction and popular culture

- In 1998, Swedish rapper Promoe mentioned Christiania in his song Denmark Style from the Sut Min Pik EP that was released by Fondle 'Em Records.
The community is featured in one of the episodes ("Verlaufen in Daenemark") of Wladimir Kaminer's collection of stories, Die Reise nach Trulala.
- In 2003 NOFX sings "Christiania's kinda far away" in "Anarchy Camp" on its album "The war on errorism"
- In March 2004, Christiania was featured in an episode of the political satirical TV show Den halve sandhed (The half truth). As a tongue-in-cheek action, a journalist started to erect a small wooden hut in one of Christiania's open areas, claiming he assumed everyone could settle in the freetown. Within minutes, Christiania residents arrived and told him this was totally unacceptable. The journalist was violently threatened and told to make himself scarce. Later, journalists set up a stall attempting to sell 'non-politically correct' products such as Coca-Cola, arguing this was no worse than selling cannabis to minors.
- In June 2011, Christiania was featured in the season 7 premiere of the American TV show Weeds.
- In October 2014, a feature documentary film called Christiania – 40 Years of Occupation had its premiere at the New York Architecture and Design Film Festival. It has since been screened in countries around the world and won Best Feature Documentary at the Seattle Transmedia and Independent Film Festival in May 2015.
- Lukas Forchhammer, lead singer in the Danish pop-soul band Lukas Graham, has often referenced Christiania in his performances. In October 2015, the opening titles of the music video for "Mama Said" stated "Christiania is a magical place in Copenhagen; this is where Lukas Graham was born".While performing the song "7 Years" at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, Forchhammer wore a black T-shirt that read "Freetown Christiania" in gold and white lettering.
In 2016, Trailer Park Boys Out of the Park: Europe featured the neighborhood. It highlighted some of the culture of the surrounding area.

Notable residents

Lukas Forchhammer (1988–), born in Christiania, lead singer of the Danish pop-soul band Lukas Graham.