Christiania is a green and car-free neighborhood in Copenhagen with space to live in a different way within the general rules of legislation. Christiania is a unique area in Denmark which contains many different historical and cultural layers, and the entire area including the protected fortification and ramparts must serve as an open, recreational area for Christianites, the residents of Copenhagen and the rest of the population.
The Christiania area consists of the former Bådsmandsstræde Barracks and Christianshavn Ramparts which was established in the 17th century as a part of the fortress ring around Copenhagen. The rampart is a well-preserved military plant and is characterized as an ancient monument which is preserved to benefit future generations.
Christiania was established in 1971 and existed under special conditions for 40 years. After many years of uncertainty about the future organization of Christiania and after many negotiations between Christiania and the state, an agreement was entered on 22 June 2011 between the parties concerning the future ownership of the Christiania area.
The agreement meant that on 1 July 2012, a foundation, the foundation for the Freetown Christiania, was able to purchase the entire part of Christiania located outside the protected ramparts. The foundation leases buildings and land on the ramparts, which are still owned by the state. In this context, a number of specific purchase and lease agreements have been entered between the foundation for the Freetown Christiania and the Danish Building and Property Agency.
History of the Christiania area
The fortification of Copenhagen 1100-1600
Copenhagen's coast defences and land fortification, which can be traced back to the medieval fortifications of the 10th century, are a unique structure in the European context. In particular, the combination of coast defences and land fortification is completely unique. The fortification is a combined system consisting of a semi-circular fortification, where the Citadel in the north is newly renovated today, and where the fortification around the inner city is only recognisable by the lakes in the park, and the semi-circular coast defence, where the rampart, all bastions, redans and moats can still be experienced.
The coast defence, Christianhavn's Rampart from the second half of 17th century, is one of the country's most monumental historic sites, a magnificent piece of architecture, which, despite its size and location in the capital area and despite the increasing building over the later years, is remarkably intact.
Up through the 17th century, Copenhagen's fortification was modernised and extended in several stages in order to protect the city, which at that time was a dominant commercial city and administrative centre for the Danish-Norwegian monarchy. In 1616, the first plans for a new fortified city facing Amager were ready, and in 1617 engineer Johan Semp drew up the first proposal. Nothing became of this, but already in December of the same year Johan Semp had drawn up a second plan, which formed the basis for the first Christianshavn. The king levied an extra tax to acquire money for the project, and the pieces of land were given away to acquire developers for the new Christianshavn, which was partially under water. Also, the future developers were exempted from various taxes and dues for a number of years. Already in 1623 the fortification itself was finished, while development of Christianshavn proceeded slower.
As a continuation of the fortification, Christianshavn's Rampart was extended in the North in 1682-92 with the construction of Nyværk. The new ramparts went from the Løvens Bastion (Lion's Bastion) in the south, between Torvegade and Bådsmandsstræde, to Hukken in the north. Hukken was a part of the Refshale area, which was surrounded by a pile lock for protection of the navy. Hukken was connected with Toldboden (The Customs House) via a bridge. With this last extension of the ramparts, the waterfront between the Citadel and Bremerholm was protected, Copenhagen's fortification was completed and the ramparts now surrounded Copenhagen completely.
Nyværk was planned by the military engineer Gottfried Hoffmann and built with seven bastions, which was named after the royal family. From the south, the seven bastions are Ulrik's bastion, Rachel Hedevig's Bastion, Vilhelm's Bastion, Carl's Bastion, Frederik's Bastion, Charlotte Amalie's Bastion and Quintus' Bastion. Naturally enough, in front of the bastions was a moat, and again in the years 1777-80, the Envelope, a narrow rampart with 6 redans (small arrow-shaped protrusion on the rampart), was constructed in front. The five southernmost bastions and the five northernmost of the redans are now a part of Christiania.
The area's seven bastions were named after the royal family. Ulrik's Bastion is named after Ulrich Christian Gyldenlove (1678-1719), son of Christian V and Amalie Moth. The bastion, which was first used by the Navy's Laboratory, was later included in Bådsmandsstræde Barracks and has been a part of Christiania since 1971.
Sofie Hedevig's Bastion
Sofie Hedevig's Bastion is named after Sofie Hedevig (1677-1735), daughter of Christian V. First a powder mill was constructed in the bastion (1687-1750), later an oil mill and in the 1860s the Army's New Laboratory moved here. The bastion has been a part of Christiania since 1971.
Vilhelm's Bastion is named after Vilhelm (1687-1705), son of Christian V and Charlotte Amalie. In 1688, a powder magazine was erected in the inside of the bastion based on architect Hans van Steenwinkel III's drawings. The building is now fitted out for residence. The bastion has been a part of Christiania since 1971.
Carl's Bastion is named after Carl (1680-1729), son of Christian V and Charlotte Amalie. In 1690, a powder magazine was erected in the inside of the bastion based on architect Hans van Steenwinkel III's drawings. The building, which today is protected and converted into a gallery, is not part of Christiania. The distinctive expression and open location of the powder magazine facing Holmen is still clear. The rampage has been a part of Christiania since 1971.
Frederik's Bastion is named after Frederik IV (1671-1730), son of Christian V. A powder magazine was erected in the inside of the bastion in 1744-45 based on architect C. E. D. von Øtken's drawings. The building, which today is protected and converted into a gallery, is not part of Christiania. The distinctive expression and open location of the powder magazine facing Holmen is still clear. The rampart is a part of Christiania.
Charlotte Amalie's Bastion
Charlotte Amalie's Bastion is named after Charlotte Amalie, Queen of Christian V. In 1744-45, a powder magazine was erected in the inside of the bastion based on architect C.E.D. von Øtken's drawings. The building is protected today. The bastion is outside of Christiania.
Christiani Quinti Bastion
Christiani Quinti Bastion is named after Christian V (1646-1699). During the 18th century, the bastion was a part of the Holmen area. The bastion is outside of Christiania.
In the beginning of the 19th century, the area east of Bådsmandsstræde was wet, marshy and undeveloped. Eventually parts of it were drained and used as drill grounds for civic guards. In 1831, the idea of artillery barracks in the area was born, and a few years later the Country Military Services presented drawings for a large barracks facility. In November 1836, the barracks of the 1st Artillery Regiment, the Bådsmandsstræde Barracks, could be taken into use. The barracks were constructed in yellow stone. The main wing (Fredens Ark/ The Peace Ark), of which only about half was built, was located perpendicular to Bådsmandsstræde.
At this time, the area of the barracks was no larger than the triangle of peace between the current Fredens Ark, Pusher Street and the rampart. Later, the barracks area was extended and expanded several times. Over the next 135 years, a multitude of modifications and additions were made to the military facility. When the ramparts lost their defence-related importance, the military built magazines and other buildings inside the ramparts due to a lack of space both on and in front of the ramparts.
Christianshavn's Rampart south of Torvegade was abandoned as a military area in 1916 and converted into a municipal park. The rampart north of Torvegade up to the Bådsmandsstræde Barracks was handed over to the City of Copenhagen in 1961 and opened to the public. The defence phased out the barracks and the ammunition arsenal in the period 1967-1971.
In summer 1971, the military cleared the barrack areas. There were no plans from the authorities concerning the future use of the barracks. People in the neighbouring district spotted the barracks area and felt that this could be used as a recreational area for the surrounding densely built neighbourhoods. On 18 May 1971, a group of people broke down a hoarding and established a junk adventure playground for the neighbourhood children.
During the summer and autumn of 1971, the squatters moved in and started using the barracks buildings, and 26 September 1971 became the official birthday of Freetown Christiania. An objective for Christiania was formulated, and it still applies:
"Christiania's objective is to create a self-governing society, whereby each and every individual can thrive under the responsibility for the entire community. This society must economically rest in itself, and the joint efforts must continue to be about showing that psychological and physical destitution can be diverted". This is how it was formulated by Sven, Kim, Ole and Jacob with the right to improvements. 13.11.1971.
Mobile workmen's huts and experimental new construction
The idea was to create a self-governing society, where the economy was based on recycling and sustainability, and where creativity and energy had free reins. In a short period of time, Christiania became populated by several hundred people. At first, it was the military buildings, which were used and converted into living quarters. Then the mobile workmen's huts made their entrance. Having a home on wheels was practical in the event that Christiania was to be evacuated. Later on the experimental building followed.
Over time, the first makeshift conversions have been made permanent, the distinguished military buildings have been heavily rebuilt and been added onto with an imaginativeness and disrespect not seen other places. The mobile workmen's huts have become stationary; the wheels are gone and many have been extended in both the height and width. The new buildings range from recycled construction in the spirit of Christiania to super-experimental, well-designed housing to wooden system-built houses.
Christiania and the state
In the following, Christiania's history is summarised with regards to the relationship to the state and the undertakings, which the state has given to Christiania. On 31 May 1972, a temporary agreement was entered into regarding Christiania's right of use of the state's land and buildings in the area; on 14 June 1973, the agreement was confirmed by an undertaking from the Danish Ministry of Defence, which included the period up to 31 March 1976.
On 1 April 1976, the Danish Ministry of Defence filed a stay of proceedings, which ended on 2 February 1978 by the Supreme Court's confirmation of the High Court's ruling for immediate clearing of Christiania. The judgement did not have consequences for the free town. In 1978, the Danish Parliament decided that a district plan needed to be made for the area. In the meantime, the free town could exist under special conditions, which were announced in the Danish Official Gazette.
In June 1989, a broad majority in the Danish Parliament voted for the Christiania Law, whose aim is to allow Christiania's continued use of the area in accordance with a special national planning directive and a district plan. The law had also intended to prevent illegal construction.
The Christiania Law's permit system for the use of buildings and land in the area was not taken into use. Instead, on 10 October 1991, the Danish Ministry of Defence entered into a framework agreement on the right of use of the Christiania area with Christiania as a collective. This has been extended several times, latest with expiry on 1 July 2004.
In 2004, the Christiania Law was revised with the aim of allowing a development of the Christiania area as a sustainable neighbourhood in Copenhagen. As part of this, there would be a change in ownership of the area, and there would be a phasing out of the Christiania scheme at the time.
On 22 June 2011, Christiania and the state entered into an agreement concerning the future ownership of the Christiania area. This agreement formed the basis for the buildings and land in the Christiania area having been transferred to a foundation, the Foundation Freetown Christiania, on 1 July 2012.
The purpose of the Christiania Law from 2004 was exhausted with the conclusion of the 22 June Agreement and the subsequent implementation of five specific purchase and lease agreements as well as an agreement for the restoration of the protected Christianshavn's Rampart. The agreements have resulted in a lasting solution for the area and a change in ownership, which forms the basis for the Christiania area being able to be developed into an open, recreational, car-free and sustainable neighbourhood in Copenhagen, where there is space to live in a different way. Therefore, the agreements mean that Christiania for the first time since 1989 no longer needs to be subject to legislative special rules relating to the use of the area. Against this background, Martin Lidegaard, Minister for Climate, Energy and Building, introduced a legislative proposal on 13 March to repeal the special law for the Christiania area on 15 July 2013. The legislative proposal was adopted by a large majority in the Danish Parliament on 4 June 2013. So from 15 July 2013, the same laws and rules that apply for the rest of Denmark, will also apply to Christiania.
Source: København før og nu – og aldrig, volume 7, Palle Fogtdal
Some 40 years' history in bulleted summary-style format.
- 26 September 1971 Freetown Christiania was founded
- 31 May 1972 at a meeting in the Danish Ministry of Defence an interim agreement was entered between the Danish Ministry of Defence and residents in the Christiania area concerning the residents' continued use of the state's land and buildings in the area.
- June 1973 the government decided that Freetown Christiania could remain in the area for a period of 3 years. This was notified to the residents' negotiating delegation at a meeting on 14 June 1973.
- 30 March 1976 the Danish Parliament adopted a motivated agenda, whereby the House encouraged the government to implement the adopted clearing of the area without unnecessary delay.
- 31 March 1976 the Danish Ministry of Defence by the legal advisor to the government submitted a request for immediate enforcement proceedings for the eviction of all the residents in the area.
- 11 June 1973 the application was denied promotion by the enforcement court.
- 12 December 1975 the appealed enforcement proceedings and Christiania's action brought against the state, "the Christiania case", was dealt with in the High Court of Eastern Denmark.
- 10 February 1977 the Danish Ministry of Defence was acquitted of the claims from Christiania, and the Danish Ministry of Defence was successful in that the area was to be evacuated without prior notice.
- 2 February 1978 the Supreme Court ruled in the appealed case, where the judgement of the high court was upheld. The Supreme Court's judgement was not executed and did therefore not result in the shutdown of residence in the Christiania area.
- 8 February 1978 in light of the Supreme Court's ruling, the Danish Parliament decided to adopt a motivated agenda, in which it appeared that one ought to allow the temporary use of the area to continue.
- 1 June 1979 the Danish Ministry of Defence made a declaration to the residents of Christiania, which was printed in the Danish Official Journal on 7 June 1979, in which it was stated that the previous use of the Christiania area can continue.
- September 1980 the government decided to allow the consultant firm Mills & Grønborg to prepare a sketch for the future use of the Christiania area.
- 28 December 1981 the sketch was submitted, and the consulting firm recommended a model, in which Christiania was to be established as "a legal experimental town".
- 28 November 1982 the Danish Parliament considered a motion for a resolution of the shutting down of Christiania. It was not adopted.
- April 1985 the Danish Parliament adopted to set up a special committee for the future of Christiania.
- 6 May 1986 the committee submitted a report and, at the same time, the Danish Parliament passed a law that a "special steering committee" was to be set up.
- 31 March 1987 the Special Steering Committee was set up consisting of Tine Bryld, Pia Kiørboe, Ib Møller and Alfred Dam (president).
- 19 April 1989 the Minister of Defence submitted a draft law on the use of the Christiania area.
- 7 June 1989 the proposal was adopted as Law no 399.
- 1 December 1989 the Danish Minister of Defence set up The Special Governing Council as a substitute for The Special Steering Committee and, at the same time, the Christiania Secretariat was created.
- 17 March 1989 the Minister for the Environment issued a national planning directive for the Christiania area.
- 29 January 1991 the Minister for the Environment approved the final district plan for Christiania.
- 30 September 1991 the first framework agreement with Christiania was signed by Christiania's Contact Group.
- 10 October 1991 the first framework agreement was signed by the Danish Ministry of Defence.
- 1992 - 1995: during this period 1 year extensions of the framework agreement were entered.
- 1996 - 1999 subsequently a satisfactory 3-year framework agreement was entered into.
- 1 July 1999 - 1 July 2004 the framework agreement was extended for a 5-year period.
- 6 May 2003 the government presented "Statement on Christiania" concerning the implementation of a new policy of Christiania and in continuation of this, the Christiania Committee was set up.
- 12 March 2004 the committee submitted its reporting "The Future of the Christiania Area - Master Plan and Action Plan".
- 31 March 2004 on the basis of the Christiania Committee's proposal, the Danish Minister of Defence submitted a draft law concerning amending the law on the use of the Christiania area.
- 9 June 2004 the draft law was adopted with few minor amendments as Law no. 431.
- 15 June 2004 the law went into force.
- May 2005 the Danish Agency for Palaces and Cultural Properties presented the report "Future forms of Organisation and Ownership in the Christiania Area".
- December 2006 the Community Freetown Christiania and a number of individual residents and businesses at Christiania filed a lawsuit against the state claiming that they have right of use of all or parts of Christiania.
- 24 August 2007 the Danish Agency for Palaces and Cultural Properties entered into a final agreement with Christiania, which meant that the buildings could be sold to a new social housing organisation.
- June 2008 Christiania decided to decline the final implementation of the agreement of 24 August 2007.
- 26 May 2009 Christiania lost the lawsuit against the state in the High Court of Eastern Denmark and then appealed to the Supreme Court.
- 18 February 2011 Christiania lost the trial against the state in the Supreme Court.
- 22 June 2011 Christiania and the state entered into an agreement concerning the future ownership of the Christiania area.
- 12 June 2012 buildings and land were transferred to the Foundation Freetown Christiania.
- 13 March 2012 legislative proposal for repealing the special law concerning the use of the Christiania area was put forward in the Danish Parliament.
- 4 June 2013 legislative proposal L 179 for repealing the Christiania law was approved by a broad majority in the Danish parliament.
The agreement between Christiania and the state
On June 22, 2011, an agreement was reached between Christiania and the state regarding a solution for future ownership of the Christiania area. The agreement involves that the foundation buys and rents buildings and land from the state and that the foundation is responsible for restoring, future operation and maintenance of the fortress, all state buildings, energy supply, infrastructure and lightning, etc. The foundation will also be responsible for the future housing allocation in the area.
Implementation of the agreement of June 22 takes place through five agreements. Agreements 1-4 concern rights of property and use. Agreement 5 governs the foundation's obligations for the renovation, operation and maintenance of buildings and areas still owned by the state.
Read the purchase and lease agreements: (in Danish)
Two supplementary agreements have been developed for agreement 5, and they deal with the work on restoring the ramparts and the state buildings.
Read the supplementary agreements: (in Danish)
The purchase price
The purchase price for the part of Christiania area purchased by the foundation is 125.4 million DKK. The price is based on the condition of the buildings and the recovery needs and from the tasks related to the restoration, operation and maintenance of the area the foundation will take care of.1, 2018 with 11.2 million DKK.
The remaining part of the purchase price of 40 million DKK is corrected by the foundation's acceptance of all obligations for restoring communal areas, roads, lighting and the grid, as well as restoration, maintenance and operation of the ancient monument.
Until 2021, the foundation may apply for reimbursement in the purchase rates for the work carried out in connection with the restoration of the protected ramparts and the state buildings on the ramparts.
The ownership of the Christiania area is divided between the foundation and the state. From the state The Agency for Culture and Palaces and The Danish Building and Property Agency are involved in the administration of the area. The work of The Agency for Culture and Palaces includes the protection of the ancient monuments (the ramparts) and the protected buildings. The Danish Building and Property Agency is landowner and leases and administers the agreement between the foundation and the state.
The state has the following tasks in the Christiania area:
The Danish Building and Property Agency must monitor compliance with the agreements with the foundation on restoration, maintenance and operation of the ramparts.
- The Danish Building and Property Agency charges rentals of the buildings and areas that are still owned by the state and which the foundation leases.
- The Danish Building and Property Agency shall, in cooperation with the foundation, draw budgets for the foundation's restoration of the preserved ramparts and state buildings and also make up the amount of refunds in regards of the payment of the purchase rates.
- The Agency for Culture and Palaces carries out the administration of the Museums Act, which applies to the protected ramparts. There is a close collaboration between the Danish Building and Property Agency and the Agency for Culture and Palaces as the preservation authority on handling cases concerning construction, access and restoration of state buildings and construction projects regarding the foundation's own buildings.
- As a landowner, The Danish Building and Property Agency supervises all illegal construction on the ramparts.
- Annually, The Danish Building and Property Agency will follow the foundation's statement on housing allocation.
The municipality carries out the usual tasks as authority regarding construction, planning legislation, etc.
For further information read "The agreement between Christiana and the state".