Copenhagen Canal

Day 6: Walking Copenhagen Harbor to Christiania Christmas Market

Introduction

Today’s plan was to shop at the Freetown Christiania Christmas Market. I was told that this market focused more on locally sourced handmade items than mass-produced Chinese garbage, that exists in many of Copenhagen’s. I had a few hours to walk there before the market opened, so I chose a path that included Københavns Havn (Copenhagen Harbor) 

After I left the hotel, I saw this huge climbing wall open to the public; bring your gear and spotter and climb away; it is pretty tall, about 4 stories or so. 

I headed northeast toward Christiansborg Palace and found an eclectic art installation I cannot locate a name of, except for a reference on Google Maps called “The Queen Bean.” The sculpture was added between January 2021 and July 2022. As far as I can tell from Google Maps Street View, it seems to be angry with the Carlsberg Fine Art Museum across the street, and after reading some of the one-star reviews for the museum, I think that might be it.

There was not a lot of excitement today at Christiansborg Palace, at least at the back gate; the horses were in their pens. Followed the canal to the east and enjoyed the old boats and a lightship. Towards the end of the channel is Christian IV’s Brewhouse, which brewed beer for Danish soldiers for over 150 years, from 1616 until the building burned in 1767 after it became a warehouse for beer and other items, for 250 years until the 2000s when it became the Lapidarium of Kings and currently stores over 350 of the king’s statues. 

Crossing back over the canal is the Danish Architecture Centre, which hosts a myriad of Danish-focused Architecture, past, present, and future. 

Københavns Havn (Copenhagen Harbor)

Almost all of the past industrial uses of the Copenhagen Harbor have been erased in central Copenhagen, except for the odd manual crane. The harbor is now dotted with public buildings, including The Royal Library, where I enjoyed a coffee and a cinnamon roll. These open public spaces along the port are very nice and well-used.  

Who knew public trampolines were a thing? 

A salute to bricks 

If you were wondering, the canal was safe to swim in if you wanted hypothermia. The automated sign lets you know if the water is polluted. I saw another of these swimming facilities, but I don’t remember where, and it did not have an excellent sign.

There are several drawbridges, some for cars and some for bikes and pedestrians, and they are all unique. The newest is the Inner Harbor Bridge or Kissing Bridge, which is so unique that it is broken. Instead of rising, the two halves retract, and when closing, they slide back towards each other and “kiss” in the middle. The problem is thermal dynamics, so each side bends slightly differently from the sun’s heat, and the locking pins have no taper. It was tough for the bridge to close like it was supposed to. As I understand, the locking pins will be replaced with tapered ones, allowing a little slop when the ends kiss. 

Christmas tree places all over the city have yet to be opened. This one was part of a little Christmas village, skating, food, drinks, and entertainment in the evening. 

Freetown Christiania

I put my camera away before I arrived since I heard from several people that the residents of Christiania are camera-shy, and having experienced their camera shyness a few days earlier at Christianshavns Torv, I decided to keep the cameras in the bag while in Freetown. Freetown Christiania was the only place I felt uncomfortable, not threatened, just not comfortable, like the park in front of the central train station in Prague.

Below is Christianshavns Torv, a smallish square with a metro station; this is where I was approached for taking pictures. There is a much longer story as to why this area of Copenhagen has to do with the fact that there are no prisons on Greenland or the Faroe Islands.

Christianshavns Torv was the first and only place in Copenhagen where I saw people sleeping in the Metro stations. Ok, some were basically passed out with a bottle of their favorite liquor within arm’s length. I also observed behavior similar to that of the zombies on the streets of Philadelphia. People insist that Denmark and Copenhagen do not have a hard drug problem; they obviously have not looked in the Christianshavns Torv Metro station. 

So, I will use too many words to describe Freetown Christiania since I could only take one picture; I will try to be nice about it. 

Freetown Christiania: Where Hippie Dreams Meet Danish Reality (sort of)

Freetown Christiania is a neighborhood in Copenhagen, Denmark, known for its alternative way of life. It is a popular destination for hippies and those who seek a non-traditional lifestyle. The community is unique and quirky, combining creativity, freedom, and controversy. Even though the rules of society are not strictly enforced here, the residents of Christiania have managed to create a semi-harmonious and unconventional way of life if you ignore the gangs and such.

Christiania Freetown, often called “Fristaden” (The Free Town) by locals, has a fascinating history that began in 1971. It all started when a group of squatters, artists, and dreamers decided to occupy an abandoned military barracks near the heart of Copenhagen. They did so with the intent of creating a self-governing, autonomous community. Their rallying cry? “Fristaden Christiania – Byens frihed, vores liv!” which translates to “The Free Town of Christiania – The City’s Freedom, Our Life!”

This ragtag bunch of idealists transformed the barracks into an eclectic commune where art, music, and experimentation thrived. Imagine a kaleidoscope of colorful murals, sculptures, and graffiti adorning the walls. Walking into Christiania is like entering a third-world village where creativity supersedes infrastructure. Although the dreaded capitalism is rearing its ugly head, shops carry mainstream mass-appeal products. 

Challenges and Controversies

Of course, Christiania’s unconventional ways have not been without their share of challenges. Over the years, the Danish government has wrestled with the question of whether to integrate Christiania fully into the city’s legal framework. There have been conflicts regarding property rights and the legality of the cannabis trade on “Pusher” Street.

Since the early 2000s, there have been significant police crackdowns, leading to the dismantling of the “Hash Bazaar” in Christiania. This operation aimed to curtail the open sale of cannabis products and hard drugs, and drug dealers are not tolerated, yet they have “Pusher Street”. It was a stark reminder that even in a place as unique as Christiania, the boundaries between freedom and legality are not always clear-cut.

So, if you ever find yourself in Copenhagen, don’t bother to take a detour to Freetown Christiania unless it is high noon and you are into that kind of thing. It’s a place where hippie dreams meet Danish reality and where the extraordinary doesn’t exist.

The Freetown Christiania Christmas Market

Well, the Christmas market was less than expected, thankfully, there was not an abundance of cheap Chinese crap. A large amount of the booths were selling food and drink, but I found some nice things that made a few people happy. 

Church of Our Saviour

Initial planning started in 1639, for a church to help support the expansion of Copenhagen, but construction did not begin until 1682 and was not completed until 1696, while the final altar would have to wait for another 36 years to be installed. The final and current spire was inaugurated in the summer of 1752 when King Frederick V of Denmark climbed the spire. The spire is unique among the spires I have seen in Europe; the stairs are on the outside, giving it the unique corkscrew look.

Conclusion

During the day, Christianshavn is generally safe except for the Freetown area. The west side of the neighborhood is especially enjoyable.

The rest of the area is quite nice like the rest of Copenhagen

Bonus

I shoot, on average, 200 to 250 images a day; I cut those down to a usable number of 30 to 75 images; this video is of 135 that made it through the second cut, images that were made that day; I hope you enjoy it. For some reason the YouTube image may or may not render click here Copenhagen Friday for the video/


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