Seen from a boat drifting along Copenhagen’s wide canals, the neighborhood of Christiania is a verdant enclave tucked beneath a thick canopy of trees. Half a century after it was founded as a breakaway anarchist commune, it seems to have matured into a slice of paradise.
But all is not well in Christiania. While the hippie community still thrives today, it’s beset by problems that threaten its identity and future — an existential crisis variously blamed on intolerant local authorities, police, gentrification and, inevitably, tourists.
Denmark is often listed among the happiest countries in the world, but back in 1971 there was enough discontent to inspire a group of hippies, junkies, oddballs and outcasts to set up a permanent squat in a former military complex in the country’s capital.
Over the years, the social experiment developed into a self-contained society that, though it rejected state control, lived in tolerable harmony with the rest of the city. Still at core an anarchist community, Christiania remains a place where drugs are freely sold and consumed without overt interference from the police — a weed-smoking Disneyland.