Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Death of Christiania

Spiegel Online:
Thirty-six years after it was founded, the "Free State of Christiania" is now being forced to comply with Copenhagen's local ordinances. Those who wish to remain are being asked to buy their homes -- at prices close to the market value. Will gentrification kill the idyllic hippie settlement?

Daily life for Nils Vest, 64, is as colorful as it is tranquil. The award-winning documentary filmmaker and his wife, actress Britta Lilles√łe, have spent the last 36 years living with more than 900 like-minded people on an 80-acre plot of undeveloped land in the middle of Copenhagen. The community lives without cars and sets its own rules and is, as Vest says, not unlike a "very large family."

Christiania consists of about 300 randomly scattered houses and huts. The buildings include historic factory buildings and military barracks, self-designed wooden houses, shacks made of scrap wood and even aging construction vehicles. What Vest calls a "dream of our own city within the city" lies in a picturesque location, wedged between Copenhagen's harbor and the old city moat -- a scene he likens to that of a "wonderful fairy tale."

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