In Prague, certain monuments are of fundamental importance, starting with the John Lennon Wall (Zeď Johna Lennona, Velkopřevorské nám., 118 00 Malá Strana).
Symbolizing a furious, rebellious youth eager to taste the joys of freedom, this wall was for a long time the focal point of a protest movement that gradually gained considerable weight within Czech society.
PRAGUE'S LENNON WALL: HOW DID THE IDEA COME ABOUT?
It all goes back to the Soviet era. Tired of having to live by the rules dictated by Moscow, Prague’s youth echoed a Czech Republic whose sole aim was to make its voice heard.
Inspired, some artists defied the rules, risking their lives before using the venue to pay homage to a certain John Lennon. The death of the Beatles, a symbol of commitment and the aspiration to be free, had a profound effect on society.
As a result, some people decided to paint the singer’s portrait at night to celebrate his death. It was an unprecedented idea that is still going strong today. As a result, music and drawing enthusiasts flock to the site every year.
MUR LENNON PRAGUE: THE COMMUNIST REGIME is AGAINST
Of course, the significance of this painting is greater than a simple tribute, as Lennon represents everything the former USSR despised. As a result, the Czech police erased the singer’s face by covering it with paint.
Anxious to preserve the unity of its territory and, above all, to quell as quickly as possible the slightest movement, the slightest spark of protest, the Communist services put the pressure on Czech youth.
However, the latter have learned resilience, and this time they don’t intend to give in, convinced that the wall – not yet called Prague’s John Lennon Wall – can become a real symbol in the Czech Republic.
The BEATLES: A SIGN OF RESILIENCE for CZECH people
That same evening, some people once again defied the authorities and went to the side of the wall.
Once again, they painted John Lennon’s face. Once, then twice. The symbol was strong, the message was sent, and the Communists found themselves under attack.
As for the wall, it became a way for Prague students and anti-communists to express their opinions, notably through art and graffiti.
GUSTÁV HUSÁK BEGINS REPRESSION
The students, for their part, gave up nothing and tirelessly covered the now “Lennon Wall” with graffiti and messages close to their hearts… But this attraction to art didn’t please the regime.
The end of the war, the need for peace, the end of the dictatorship: the Czechs put all kinds of messages on the wall, before the government, led by Gustáv Husák, began to cover up all the inscriptions.
A SYMBOL OF EXPRESSION IN THE HEART OF THE CZECH CAPITAL
Today, the wall has become a symbol of self-expression, even if the location is subject to change. The authorities were afraid that tourists, especially drunken ones, would start writing messages on the wall, far from its original purpose.
Closed in October 2019, reopened in November, the wall is now monitored by cameras. However, the authorities have not left the wall white, but have asked artists, including the famous Pavel Šťastný, to renovate it and restore it to its former glory.
Anxious to preserve the very essence of the Lennon Wall, Šťastný succeeded in obtaining the authorities’ approval to leave a few sections white, so that tourists could continue to write messages of peace and love on it.
LENNON WALL: PRAGUE COMMITS TO PRESERVING IT
Please note, however, that you will only be able to leave your message using a felt-tip pen, as spray paint is now prohibited. It will also be forbidden to perform there in order to earn money. Many street musicians used to face the wall to sing Beatles songs to tourists, in order to make a bit of money.
An activity now banned by the authorities, who wish to guide tourists in their process of commemorating peace and love, the primary objective of the art depicted on this site. For all these reasons, this building is on our list of off-the-beaten-track monuments to discover on your trip to the heart of the Czech Republic’s capital.