Hippy village of Christiania in Denmark -- now a semi-autonomous region

About 40 years ago an unused military base in the middle of Copenhagen was occupied (squatted) by a group of Danish free spirits who began living and working in the existing barracks, building free form architectural structures along the canal that runs through the place.  Renamed "Christiania" by the inhabitants, it has been focus of continuing controversy, especially about  its notorious, sometimes crime infested, drug culture.  Fortunately, the little village also evolved as a home for the arts, music, and some good restaurants.  It's also the original site of a factory that produces ingeniously designed human-powered vehicles used around the world.

Several years ago local authorities threatened to shut the place down and evict its several hundred residents.  But an outcry from Copenhagen citizens stopped the move. "Why destroy a place that's become the second most popular tourist destination in the city?" supporters argued.  Recently, Christiania has been officially designated a "semi-autonomous" region where the inhabitants have considerable powers of self-rule. 

Smart move, Denmark!