maja_280Christiania is the Western world’s longest existing alternative society, an autonomous community in the centre of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ruled according to codes outside of conventional law and order, Christiania is a self-proclaimed ‘Freetown’, governed by its own organisation.

Founded in 1971 by a group of hippies, its inhabitants of around 900 people are currently facing an existential and property rights crisis. The social experiment’s ageing population of 1960s counterculturalists are fighting a less tolerant government as well as intensified commercial interest in the area, situated right in the middle of Copenhagen’s most attractive neighbourhoods.

The Danish Eastern High Court decided in May 2009 that the government was within its powers to re-assert control over the area. The residents, however, believe that the state’s acceptance (until now) of their occupation has given them de facto rights to the area. They have appealed the case to the Supreme Court for a final decision.

Despite the constant threat of closure and normalisation, the community continues to invest in the future. The initial commune have been reinforced by a hard working mixed population of “alternativists” who are busy developing local businesses and giving hordes of tourists guided tours. The Freetown attracts around one million visiting tourists every year since Christiania has become a pertinent and rare example of an alternative domestic organisation.

Maja Daniels