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    May 12, 2014

    Why You Need To Visit Denmark's Hippie Commune Before You Die

    The self-governing town of Christiania has seen its share of ups and downs, but it's still a place unlike any other in the world.

    This is Christiania.

    Stig Nygaard / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: stignygaard

    Its 84 acres sit on an abandoned military base, and it was founded in 1971 by squatters and artists as a "social experiment."

    maisicon / ShutterStock

    While it may look like just another quaint Danish city from afar, Christiania is an autonomous "free town" within Copenhagen — a hippie commune, if you will.

    Bucchi Francesco / ShutterStock
    Quistnix / Creative Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    It's full of vibrant scenery with a gritty edge.

    Thomas La Mela / Shutterstock

    Tyler Olson / Shutterstock

    Emmy Favilla

    The town was said to be "beyond the reach of Danish law" by its founders, and has its own currency, Løn. (It's often referred to as Freetown Christiania.)

    en.wikipedia.org / Via Bruno Jargot / Creative Commons

    Upon entering the town, you pass a sign that says "You Are Now Leaving the European Union."

    Christiania even flies its own flag.

    Liftarn / Creative Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The dots supposedly represent the dots of the i's in "Christiania," but some posit they actually stand for the O's in "love, love, love." Aw.

    In Christiania, cannabis shops operate 24 hours a day and sell 30–40 types of hashish. Pretty cool.

    zdroznikluka / Creative Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Although weed is technically illegal here, it is still openly sold and tolerated. Police raids, though infrequent, do happen, however.

    DIY signs abound.

    Emmy Favilla

    There are street murals at every corner.

    Andrew Reid Wildman / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: spicygreenginger
    Andrew Reid Wildman / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: spicygreenginger

    The town is full of art galleries, restaurants, cafés, and historic buildings.

    Mutant Mandias / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: 23717872@N00

    There are also plenty of museums, music venues, and cultural centers, like the Gay House, a popular destination for events for the gay, lesbian, and transgender community.

    Joanna Jeros

    And fun, colorful events to attend!

    At many places, like Café Nemoland, you can smoke weed in an outdoor seating area.

    Sertmann / Creative Commons / Via wikitravel.org

    This restaurant/bar/music venue, like many spots in Christiania, is open for late-night shenanigans. There's also the Woodstock Café, which hosts live music and serves organic beer and coffee until 5 a.m., and plenty of other laid-back places to hang out well into the night.

    Most of the food you'll find in Christiania is organic and high quality — though reasonably priced.

    Rebecca Casciano / Via rebeccacasciano.blogspot.com

    At Morgenstedet, an adorable eatery with an ever-changing menu of (really delicious!) homestyle vegan and vegetarian fare, the atmosphere is rustic and relaxed.

    Some spots look sort of trippy and post-apocalyptic.

    Emmy Favilla

    Hej means "hey." The chairs here are pretty chill too.

    And some spots look like this: a canal at the end of Christiania, where people live on boats.

    Luigi Anzvino / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: ilmungo

    :o

    Check out this awesome glass house made from recycled windows.

    seier+seier / Creative Commons / Via en.wikipedia.org

    It's thought to exemplify the idea of "architecture without architects."

    (You can see more creative, colorful Christiana architecture here.)

    Seier + Seier / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: seier

    Even the dumpsters are cool.

    Emmy Favilla

    This is Pusher Street, the "main drag," where stuff like weed and handmade jewelry is sold.

    Steffen Hillebrand / Creative Commons / Via en.wikipedia.org

    Freetown Christiania has not been without controversy, though. Drug-related crime became an increasing problem in the '80s, which led to clashes with the police and government.

    Mutant Mandias / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: mutantmandias

    Even Denmark's tourism organization currently provides safety information for visitors.

    After struggles with the Danish government for quite some time, in 2012, it was decided that most of Christiania would be sold to the people who live there.

    Mutant Mandias / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: mutantmandias

    Residents, however, have always largely been opposed to the idea of owning property, as the town was created out of a collectivist, anarchistic spirit.

    Kieran Lynam / Creative Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    The deal was made, but under the stipulation that "individuals would not actually control the land; the 'collective' would." (Christiania property was was also offered at a price much below market value.)

    Though crime has increased since its founding years, Christiania still retains the community-focused, hippie-like spirit of its original inhabitants.

    Luigi Anzivino / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: 48094050@N00

    Many of its near 1,000 residents are artisans who try to live as organically as possible. Things are pretty mellow here: Christiania prohibits running — it may be seen as a police raid — as well as private cars.

    Here's a sign displaying the nine common laws of Christiania.

    en.wikipedia.org / Via Jeuleu / Creative Commons

    My favorite is the fist punching the drug needle. Take that, hard drugs.

    It's a bucket-list destination for sure — with an atmosphere and a spirit that pictures simply don't do justice.

    Steffen Hillebrand / Creative Commons / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    (When leaving Freetown Christiania, a helpful sign reminds you that you're returning back into the EU.)

    While cannabis is openly sold and tolerated in Christiania, it is technically illegal. An earlier version of this post stated that weed was legal here. (h/t: user Ciliak.)

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