Christiania (© neil o)

In the heart of the elegant Danish capital, Copenhagen, there is a neighbourhood which is a government nightmare: The Republic of Christiania. It was created back in 1966 when hundreds of squatters broke into an unused military barrack. Over the past 25 years, the government has tried several times to force them out, but the community has only flourished and provided fertile ground for Denmark’s most innovative theatre groups, musicians and artists.

A quarter of a century later, the more than 1000 residents still refuse to obey government rule and continue to defy the authorities by not paying taxes, ignoring zoning laws and supporting the open sale of illegal soft drugs. When Michele Ernsting went to Christiania, she expected to find what Europe’s newspapers tout as “the new Wild West”. What she found instead is one of the most original, small-scale utopian developments in northern Europe. 

Producer: Michele Ernsting

Broadcast: September 26, 1997