John Lennon Wall is an eye-catching wall located on Kampa Island in Prague, which is bounded by Vltava from one side and Certovka stream on the other side. Kampa can be reached by stairs from Charles Bridge, thus you can stop there during your trip to Prague Castle. But why you should visit John Lennon Wall Prague. This wall used to be ordinary like any other wall in Prague. But something has changed in the 1980s, and today it is the destination of many Prague visitors.
John Lennon Wall Prague before 1980
Even before 1980, the wall had its purpose. People wrote on the wall with chalk diverse messages to each other, and love poems came along as well. At that time, the John Lennon Wall Prague was called the wailing wall. But it didn’t have the real significance until the 1980s, when the wall became a special place for dissatisfied young people.
After John Lennon, the Leader of the Beatles, was shot dead in the 1980s, unknown artist painted on the wall a symbolic tombstone. Soon after that people began to bring flowers and burn there candles. Later on, some lyrics of the Beatles songs, graffiti and even John Lennon’s portrait appeared on the wall. During the communist regime, John Lennon became a hero to Czech people. His songs emphasized freedom, peace and equality people lacked during the totalitarian era.
John Lennon Wall Prague in Communism
However, people who were involved in the wall decoration risked imprisonment, as the Communist regime considered that as a rebellion. Since a lot of Western pop songs, the Beatles songs especially, were forbidden by the Communist regime, the wall was whitewashed many times, but the communist police have never managed to keep it clean more than one day. The very next day the John Lennon Wall Prague wall was again filled with symbols and lyrics referring to John Lennon. In 1981, posters were placed on the wall, as whitewashing hasn’t helped. And even though the wall was guarded, people didn’t give up, and they continued to draw on the wall at night.
Initially, the wall used to be mainly a memorial to John Lennon, but then its purpose expanded and it became also a place where Prague youth would oppose the regime and promote freedom and peace. Since they didn‘t have many options to protest against the regime, the wall seemed to be an ideal way to do so. In 1989, due to the Velvet Revolution, the communist regime has fallen, but the wall lives on.
In November 17, 2014, on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, a group of students whitewashed the wall and left a message “Wall is over” (a paraphrase of Lennon’s song War is Over). The owners of the wall, the Knights of the Maltese Cross, have called the action a vandalism and filed a criminal complaint against these students. The whole situation was soon explained, the students said they just wanted to provide enough space for new creations. And indeed, it didn’t take a long time and the wall turned into a colorful place as it has been before.
As in the past, even today the wall is constantly changing, and everybody has the opportunity to add a new text or painting that is related to the theme of love and peace. The Knights of the Maltese Cross maintain the wall in a good condition and allow people to paint on it. The original portrait of John Lennon is already lost under several layers of paint, but a few words from the Beatles songs can still be found here. And if you’re lucky, you might be able to see some street artists playing the Beatles songs as well.
Every year, on December 8th, people gather there, light up candles and remind themselves their hero, John Lennon. Now the wall is no longer a pure memorial to John Lennon, although it is named after him, but a place where people can share love, equality and peace.