Visiting “Christiania” In Amazing Copenhagen Denmark! The Original “CHAZ” Protest Community!

I’m sure most of you are aware that a 6-block area of Seattle Washington has become known as “CHAZ”: the “Capital Hill Autonomous Zone”.

Protestors have blocked off the streets and have taken it “self-policing”. The area has also become known as “CHOP” as well.

I was born and raised in Seattle, and this protest doesn’t surprise me – the city has a long history of progressive politics and has always been at the forefront of protest…this is a shot of the anti-war protests of the late 60’s in the city – this one closing down the main I-5 freeway through the city’s downtown:

As I have followed the latest incidents inside the “CHAZ” protest zone, I remembered that I was in a city once that created something very similar during the Vietnam era…

And that “autonomous zone” still thrives today…

Copenhagen canals

Welcome To Copenhagen!

I had the chance to visit this incredible Nordic city for work, and fell in love with it.

Copenhagen, Denmark is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities – in an area that is probably not on many people’s radar – this area of Europe is further north than the hot spots of the French Riviera, Spain and Italy – but it is a gorgeous part of the world!

danish map of the world


I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at the Danish TV/Film Institute – and I had several days to explore this amazing city!


I love exploring new places, so I spent my time wandering – I like to walk as much as possible – and it was fascinating to see so many unique aspects of the city…

John Rieber in Copenhagen

The Origin Of Copenhagen!

I was unfamiliar with this part of the world, so I looked up a bunch of info on the city and country. Nearly a thousand years old, Copenhagen began as a simple fishing village and a commerce center.

Copenhagen street

Today, Copenhagen is the most visited city in Scandinavia – the waterfront area is always packed with people – and let me say, I have NEVER been to a city where the people were friendlier than they were here…

Denmark tourism

I was there in the summer, when the weather was warm – and as a result, people were hanging out and enjoying the city – and everyone was friendly, open and generous…

copenhagen-denmark-tourist attractions


The Little Mermaid!

And Copenhagen is home to the world’s “original” Little Mermaid!

The Little Mermaid statue is Copenhagen’s most famous landmark. In 1837, Danish author Hans Christian Andersen published a fairy tale about a little mermaid. Yes, Hans Christian Anderson was Danish, and they celebrate the Author everywhere!

Copenhagen Mermaid building

And as I mentioned, there is an area of the city that was the “CHAZ” of its time. I visited the world’s largest hippie community – which happens to be located within Copenhagen’s city limits!

Copenhagen's drug community Christiania

Behold The Hippie “CHAZ” Community of “Christiania”!

This is an overview picture of a section of Copenhagen that is home to the world’s largest hippie community – which began as a protest!


“Christiania” is one of the most successful communal experiments that emerged from 70’s hippie culture. It is a “city within a city”, located in the heart of Copenhagen, but existing in its own unique way…

Christiania hippie community

In the early 70’s, a group of hippies took over what was, up to then a military base – it began as a protest, and over the years, it has grown into a strong self-sustained, self-governed and well organized community.

Cristiania entrance

Here is how an official tourist website describes it: “After four decades, its existence is the result of Danish concepts of equality and freedom on the one hand and a sense of responsibility and determination of the Christianites on the other.”


“Christiania” operates as its own government. Crucial decisions for the community need to be discussed and approved by a committee formed of chosen inhabitants from each of the 14 parts of Christiania.

Denmark Christiania

There have been skirmishes with the government, and threats of closure, but Christiania lives on. I went inside to explore this amazing hippie community, which is open to everyone…

world's largest hippie community

An Open Drug Trade!

One of the most controversial aspects of Christiania is that is has an open drug trade. I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures inside the community, as there were open drug flea markets…but here are some pictures of Christiania that I found online…


These stands sell a variety of items, including drugs like pot and hash…it’s an open air drug market, and while the government has threatened to shut these down, they still exist…


It was a strange feeling wandering through the “market”, but the community is so much more – this is a unique “City within a city”, with all buildings hand made or renovated military buildings, and the community is full of unique art as well…

world's best hippie community

It is certainly a “must see” when you are in Copenhagen…a testament to a truly unique government that allows this.

After walking the city, I was hungry, so it was time to enjoy some of Denmark’s local specialties – so I found a place to sit along one of Copenhagen’s canals, and I had Tuborg beer and some pickled herring…

herring lunch

Copenhagen kiosk food stand

Later, I found this kiosk and I got myself a Danish hot dog – a long sausage as well as a bacon-wrapped hot dog, as well as ketchup and mustard:

Sausage Copenhagen

Copenhagen Go Go Girls Bar

Copenhagen’s Go Go Bars!

Another thing I noticed were several “go go” bars along the waterfront…

One of them had a very American influence. As you can see, a little bit of Beverly Hills showed up…

Copenhagen Beverly Hills Go Go Sign

It was just another unique aspect of a fascinating city – I loved visiting Copenhagen, loved the people and the food, and look forward to going back!

beautiful Copenhagen buildings

I traveled to Copenhagen for the first time, but also had the chance to visit another city as well:

Yes, I saw Amsterdam for the first time – from their legendary windmill to the notorious red light district, I saw it all:

You can see my tour of this unique city by clicking on my story here:

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If you enjoy these moments, please share on social media – and let me know if you have ever been to Denmark!

Copenhagen waterfront

Categories: Books / Media, Exotic Travel, Food, Memoirs, nature, Politics, Pop Culture, Travel, Travel Adventures, Wacky Food

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26 replies

  1. Ahhhh…Copenhagen… I visited a few years ago now for the Christmas markets and it is beautiful in winter…Danny Kaye sang a song entitled Beautiful Copenhagen and it is…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the idea of areas that spring from protests. I’ve never been to Copenhagen but would love to visit Christiana, it sounds so interesting.


  3. Oh, I should go to Copenhagen soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post John! On the Seattle front, I think the protestors had valid points and Chaz may have made sense for a few days.. But it got out of hand and first responders had no way to get to victims of violence this past weekend. So I’m glad their time is up and the mayor has determined the area will be returned to the residents who lost their neighborhood. Hopefully this will be done peacefully and the community restored and healed, and changes in policing enacted. And on the other side of the earth – Copenhagen looks beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Real Legoland! I would be getting in everyone’s way, taking photos every second step of all those colourful buildings. I have not been to Scandinavia, only via their great subtitled dramas – thanks to BBC4. I had not heard of Christiana. Self policing, setting up communities is an attractive idea as long as you have good citizens and not actual criminals…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am suitably envious, John. Despit my physical proximity to Denmark, I have never visited Coenhagen. That food looks great too!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I would love to visit Copenhagen, John. I know all about the statue and love Hans Christian Anderson. I read a book about the Danish efforts to save the Jewish people during WWII and their resistance and it was fascinating. I had never considered the impact of the war on Denmark. Their king allowed the Nazi occupation unopposed as he knew they didn’t stand a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh wow, you’ve got some great photos and insights, John. I’ve heard Copenhagen is super friendly, so it’s brilliant you found the same. I don’t know much about the place sadly other than the typical touristy things, like the colourful houses and the popularity of the waterfront areas. I hadn’t heard of that community before either, things like this always intrigue me. I think of cults firstly, friendly communities secondly. I think I watch too much reality crime TV. Amsterdam must have been pretty cool, too. I wouldn’t say no, if I were lucky enough to get the chance, to going to both of these places one day. xx

    Liked by 2 people


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