From a military compound to a symbol of autonomy, culture and community. Discover the highlights of Freetown Christiania
The gathering point of Christiania is undoubtedly the famous Pusher Street, which carries its name for obvious reasons. As one of Copenhagen’s tourist attractions, it is a popular place for experiencing alternative ways of living and organising society. A motley collection of people come together to see this unique spot at first hand. With so many visitors coming together, Christiania’s residents established a set of rules to ensure safety and peace. At this point, it is essential to mention that taking photos and videos close to Pusher Street is forbidden. Even carrying cameras without using them makes some people involved in the controversial commerce of cannabis feel uncomfortable. Another characteristic is the prohibition of cars and motorbikes. However, it is common to ride a bike, especially along the waterside and outside the touristic centre. It is also noteworthy that there is no kind of advertisement inside the walls of Christiania, and this fact makes the amount of publicity outside of the commune stand out even more.
One might think that Christiania has evolved into a hub for drug dealers and consumers, but hard drugs are not allowed, and the open trade of cannabis is controversial even for the inhabitants. This is connected to a couple of incidents in the context of drug dealing.
One prominent example is the shooting of the year 2016 when a drug dealer defied his arrest and shot two police officers and a civilian. One day later, he was caught by the police and hit by gunshots when he tried to escape. The man succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. Consequently, the residents of Christiania tore down the cannabis stalls in an attempt to free their commune from violence and gang wars, leading to a reduction in the local cannabis sale. In memory of those events and to inhibit future conflicts, the community established a set of rules visible to visitors on signs around the area. These rules forbid stolen goods, weapons, violence, and fireworks or firecrackers.
Furthermore, it is not allowed to wear bulletproof clothing or logos of biker gangs. Pusher Street stands for the conflict between freedom and autonomy on the one hand and violence and suppression on the other. Yet, it should not be seen as a representation of Christiania’s community and their way of life since the commune has much more to offer at a closer look.