The day was bound to come when visitors to the autonomous free town of Christiania in Copenhagen would find the place closed; but no one ever expected the move to come from the residents themselves.
Since last Wednesday, visitors to the area have been confronted at the Prinsessegade gates with a large banner in the red and yellow colors of Christiania with the text “Christiania is closed” in both Danish and English.
For six days now, all business has been stopped indefinitely in Christiania — both legal and the trade carried out on the notorious “Pusher Street” — with residents citing “the need for a period of reflection” as the reason. One of Copenhagen’s top alternative tourist sights, it is unclear when Christiania’s businesses will be open again.
This is the first time in Christiania’s 40-year history that the free state has closed its gates in this manner. Despite its entrance and exit points, with the humorous “you are now entering/leaving the EU” banner, the area has always been open to everyone, and is one of Copenhagen’s most visited tourist attractions. Visitors come not just for the restaurants, venues and quirky stands but also simply to observe this world-famous autonomous community that has remained fiercely self-governed for four decades.
The decision to close the area to non-residents has been brought about by the last decade’s gradual initiatives by the Danish government to normalise Christiania; the land is owned by the Palaces and Properties Agency.
Despite Christiania being deserted, the warm weekend saw a festival atmosphere outside the gates as hundreds of supporters met to display a unified spirit with drums, music, and dancing.
Photo courtesy of Pedro Cambra/flickr.