Nørrebro district

Nørrebro is a residential area to the north of the centre of Copenhagen. Its population is 75 714 people and it is the busiest district of the Danish capital. The district of Nørrebro gained its contemporary look, when the dikes around Copenhagen were destroyed in 1850. Since then the area has been developing as a typical industrial area with modest apartment blocks for the workers.

Video about Nørrebro district:

Nørrebro, similarly to some other districts, e.g. Østerbro and Vesterbro, was named after the paved road leading to the centre of Copenhagen. There were few good roads in the 18th century, but ever increasing traffic in the city centre made road building vital. Before 1852 Nørrebro was a small settlement. In 1867, after laying a tram line, linking Nørrebro with the centre of Copenhagen, it started growing. Owing to the overpopulation, Copenhagen started expanding. In 1850 the dikes were destroyed and from 1852 construction boom began. As a result the areas neighbouring the city centre, including the future Nørrebro area, were built up rapidly.

In the mid-60s the district became popular with immigrants, coming here for better life and earnings. That explains rich cultural heritage of Nørrebro.  It is in its central street Nørrebrogade one can find the highest concentration of pizza houses, restaurants, hairdresser’s, butchers’, bike workshops and small shops whose owners are representatives of different ethnic groups. Today this street is crossed by 16 000 cars every day, 26.5 thousand passengers of city buses and some 30 000 cyclists, which makes the street one of the busiest in the city.

In the early 1970s city authorities began renovating Nørrebro radically. They pulled down the whole neighbourhoods with old buildings and built new ones instead. Locals were not happy about these changes, which led to riots in the early 1980s. At the same time Nørrebro was repeatedly the place of cruel clashes between the Danish police and violent squatters*. The fights involved fire and petrol bombs from the squatters and batons, tear gases and even firearms from the police.

However, the largest clashes between the radical groups of youngsters and the police happened 1 March 2007 when the squatters were made to vacate the «Youth House», which was followed by the demolition of the building. At night on 3 March the area of Nørrebro turned into the battlefield. Protesters burnt rubbish bins and automobile tyres, they even managed to burn several police armoured vehicles. The radicals erected street barricades, and the most extreme ones broke shop windows, crashed ATMs and burnt cars.


In one of the neighbourhoods vandals demolished the building of a school, which enabled the authorities to blame the protesters for being extremists. The police of the capital was reinforced by the squads from the whole country, and in the neighbouring Sweden they rented additional armoured vehicles. During the riots the number of arrested people reached 650, including 60 under 18 years old.

At 8.00 on 5 March the construction crane appeared above the "Youth House". It was equipped with pulling-down devices. The demolition process lasted two days. The companies involved in the work took unprecedented safety precautions: all logotypes and company names were hidden, workers were wearing masks, and the vehicles, taking the waste away, had hidden number plates. Despite all these precautions, the rubbish dump trucks were provided with the police escort. The event of the authorities showed that they not only do not want to play with the young radicals any longer but they also try to save others from contacts with these youngsters.

Today Nørrebro is a multicultural society where near the Danes there live representatives of Arabic, Turkish, Pakistani, Bosnian, Somalian and Albanian communities. The specific weight of immigrants here is 28% of the total population of the district, i.e. nearly every 3rd person here is not Dane.

Over the past 10 years the authorities of Copenhagen have been engaged in renovation, modernization and popularization of this area with the locals. Nørrebro is a bright example of tolerance and multiculturalism, which makes this district the most expressive and colourful area of Copenhagen. However, due to the high number of immigrants, it is also one of the roughest areas of the capital, because 90 % of all shots in Copenhagen occur here in Nørrebro. Walking in this area at dark one can often see groups of young strolling and loitering people. 

*Squatting is the event of unauthorized settlement in an abandoned or unoccupied place or building by people (called squatters), who do not legally own or rent these premises, and do not have any other rights to them. 

Other photos of Nørrebro district:  









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