Freetown Christiania

Published by flag-in Meenakshi Piplani — 5 years ago

Blog: Culture
Tags: flag-dk Erasmus blog Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

A windy morning with the Northern sunshine from the Baltic Sea, greeted me on the Sunday, that I decided to visit the infamous commune of Christiania.

Fristaden Christiania is Danish for the Freetown of Christiania, a community of 1000 people amidst the sprawling capital city of Copenhagen in Denmark. 

As I stepped into the elusive gateways of the community, I saw a temple, a small one, tucked into the garden of someone’s house. People of different ages were milling around. Buddhist symbols were inscribed into the walls of the shrine, and the trident of Shiva originating from Hindu mythology, crowned the temple dome. It was saffron. In the middle of this alternative temple shrine was the sacred cross of Jesus Christ. Complete with a wine glass! Christiania is a self-declared “Anarchist Commune” which is partially autonomous, with beliefs in yoga and meditation from its inception on 26 September 1971. Its charter details out the values of its people- the Freetowners.

I chose to take a peripheral route, around the village itself.


Again, I was surprised by a colourful plethora of old wooden homes, with tools, timber, gardens, fruits, and flowers that lined its porches and balconies. The assortment of colours were refreshing. The presence of strict organisation was lacking, instead there was organised chaos. A mix and match. The pathways were paved and clean. Beautiful mosaics of broken porcelain and paint brought life to the street benches and boulevards. There was an overpowering presence of the wild of nature, the uncontrolled and cheerful amalgamation of trees, wildlife, such as birds, and the people. Lines blurred between residents and nature’s elements. People often seem to be sharing items with their neighbours by means of leaving them on their porch.

Further in, I began to feel the reverberations from a rock band performance. People relaxing and enjoying the fleeting Autumn sun in roadside cafes. The obvious difference were the graffiti lined walls in the backdrop. Sprayed in bright acrylic pink, green, yellow and blue… Most of them were legible and carried a definite message. Many walls were painted with a story, that could be read from the walls of one old building to the next. Until the final message was conveyed…Each adorned by the artist’s signature style, so you can follow it. Dead trees had become sculpted pieces of art. A sign reading “Women’s Blacksmith” was particularly curious to me. Questions of identity, religion, the human soul and death were the various agendas on the walls.


Before too long, I had to visit the bathroom, and my eyes caught on a profusely graffitied public toilet for men and women.

Walking ahead, I came across a huge stable for horses with a riding arena. It was adjacent to a pristine and quiet lake that could be crossed by a quaint wooden bridge. Ducks paddled on its surface. It was surrounded by the wild greens of the Freetown.

Away from the lake, back in the village, a clearing of a paved arena faced me. A singular pole with coloured pieces of fabric fluttered in the high wind velocity. I presume it was the flag of Christiania. In one single moment, the image brought home the place for what it is; a village that respects diversity and takes pride in its freedom and sharing. It stood tall at 4 metres. I could feel the vibe of the place now, it seemed to me- free, alive and caring. The community’s aim was to make a psychologically and physically secure society. An outsider’s first visit was enough to leave a lasting impression on the possibilities of human societal organisation. Must we be caught up in the race? Is this a home for those who want to live an alternative lifestyle?

I intend to answer these questions, when I visit again. For now, I let the rhythm of “Killing in the Name” of By Rage Against the Machine, play in my head, from the rock band concert, that shook the town and me to life.


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