Freetown Christiania: A Bitter Dissapointment
Having an open-mind is one of the most important factors in being able to travel. It allows you to free your biases and be more receptive to fully immerse yourself in cultures that you wouldn’t normally be exposed to. With respect to this, I’m always on the lookout for interesting and unique places to explore and there was none more unique than Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen.
In my last post I described the wonders of Copenhagen, the lifestyle, culture and architecture and how to transport yourself into your own fairy tale story, however I neglected to mention one area that which I felt did not fit the hype it received.
Described as quirky, eccentric and perhaps sprinkled with a bit of controversy, Freetown Christiania started life as an abandoned military barracks which was quickly taken over by squatters who stood together to create a self-acknowledged hippie commune. Promoted as a free city, Christinia was a part of Copenhagen that is free of taxes and self-run through their own community amassing a 1000 strong residence. The idea was simple and one that I could support, an area where free thinkers can be adopted without persecution to live how they see fit in an alternate lifestyle to that of the rest of Copenhagen. It’s something that can be fully appreciated; a community which survives through its own regulations without outside help and can still function healthily as a community is a great success.
One story that had my sympathies for the town folk was an epidemic of Heroin addicts overrunning Christiania. As a solution to help the community the locals of the Freetown attempted to make a deal with Danish police to provide names of Heroin dealers, to rid Christiania of this nuisance. The police raided, but instead of going for the agreed heroin dealers, they took down the marijuana pushers who commonly and freely sold drugs in Freetown (weed is still illegal in Copenhagen), leaving the locals to solve the heroin problem themselves. Since then relations between the town and law enforcement have been rocky.
In my mind, there was this romantic notion that Christiania would be a vibrant and colourful collective, saxophonists on the roadsides serenading passers by and artists sketching on canvas the life that was passing the frames of their windows.Sure artists usually have their penchant for soft drugs so this would be expected in a free state as Christiania, however what I saw was something far removed from my romantic ideals.
I had taken a tour by Copenhagen Free Walking Tours to the destination and was informed that we could not go any further as Christiania likes to do their own internal tour. Strange, but fine, if they were to be a self-sustaining state then it makes sense, however the tour guide left with a warning. Christiania has all but three rules:
- Have Fun
- Don’t Run – It causes panic
- No Photos
The first rule is perfect and goes with vision of the town (or for anything for that matter), but no running and no photos? I found out that the reason behind this is that 2. If you run, everyone thinks the police is coming and so would cause hysteria in the town. ( So that all sounds shifty already). 3. No photos because the selling of weed is still illegal. (A lot of people walk around with their faces covered).
So a community, who in my mind were free-thinkers have now changed to a group of people who are just dealing with illegal activities. Upon entering the town to my dismay (predictably) there were no artists, there were no saxophonists or musicians all I saw was a surreal dystopian area where there were row after row of stalls with the sole purpose of dealing marijuana. Sure I understand that some artists have drugs to get the creative juices flowing, but within Christiania the number of stalls and queues that were formed were insane!
This wasn’t the romanticised free-spirited community that I had hoped for. This was a place for locals (and tourists) to score weed easily. All in all a great disappointment.
My feelings are my own and I understand that there are some people who have loved their visit to Freetown Christinania, but after the propaganda my expectation of it fell far short to what was offered.
Have you been to a place that you were bitterly disappointed by? Has anyone else visited Freetown and what did you think? Do I just have a stick up my butt and should give it another go? I’d love someone to persuade me otherwise. Let me know below!
(I can’t mention Marijuana without a quite about the man itself)
“When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself.”
― Bob Marley
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