Tucked away in a quiet street in Prague’s equivalent of Embassy Row is an unexpected and colourful monument to free speech and peaceful rebellion. John Lennon never actually made it to Prague himself but his image painted by Czech pacifist youths on a wall in Mala Strana’s Kampa Island is now a popular attraction visited by dozens of tourists every day. Following his 1980 death, John Lennon became a symbol of freedom and paficism throughout Eastern Europe at a time when popular western music was banned by the Communist authorities. The wall inititally started as a mock grave and tribute to the former Beatles. A group of young Czechs painted a portrait of the singer and graffitied lyrics from his songs. Eventually, the messages evolved into protest with pro-democracy statements appearing regularly. Today, young locals and tourists still flock to the wall and “I was here” messages peacefully co-exist with political slogans and homages to the late singer.
In 1989, the new democratically elected government wanted to clean up the wall, which was saved by none-other than the French Ambassador whose office looked directly on the wall. His Excellency, the story goes, phoned the mayor of Prague and declared that he enjoyed the view of the graffiti wall so much that he would hate to see it whitewashed and with his action saved the John Lennon Wall! I’m sure the French Ambassador had anticipated that eventually, some of his countrymen visiting Prague would contribute their own graffitis to the wall… messages of peace and tributes to the Beatles.
Alban La Pute Graffiti on Prague’s John Lennon Wall. Classy, Alban. Classy!
I’m not sure, however, that this isn’t exactly the kind of messages he would have liked to see from his window 😉 Oh well.