John Lennon Wall, Prague
The “Lennon Wall” or John Lennon Wall is a wall in Prague, Czech Republic. It was once a normal wall, but since the 1980s it has been filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and lyrics from Beatles’ songs. A really interesting fact about the wall: John Lennon, himself, never actually visited Prague during his short life. Lennon was a hero to the pacifist youth of Central and Eastern Europe during the totalitarian era. Prior to 1989 when communism ruled, western pop songs were banned by Communist authorities, and especially John Lennon’s songs, because it was praising freedom that didn’t exist here. Some musicians were actually jailed for playing them!
When John Lennon was murdered in 1980 he became a hero to some of the young. His picture was painted on this wall, along with graffiti defying the authorities. Back then the Czech people had few opportunities to express their feelings with their lack of freedom. By doing this, those young activists risked imprisonment for what authorities called “subversive activities against the state”. The threat of prison, however, couldn’t keep people from slipping there at night to scrawl graffiti first in the form of Beatles lyrics and odes to Lennon. Many came to paint their own feelings and dreams on the wall.
The Communist police tried repeatedly to whitewash over the portrait and messages of peace but they could never manage to keep the wall clean. Shortly after “cleaning it” it would be full of poems and flowers with paintings of Lennon again. Even the installation of surveillance cameras and the posting of an overnight guard couldn’t stop the opinions from being expressed.
“Despite repeated coats of whitewash, the secret police never managed to keep it clean for long, and the Lennon Wall became a political focus for Prague youth (a lot of Western pop music was banned by the communists, and some Czech musicians were even jailed for playing it).” – Lonely Planet
A similar wall inspired by the original wall has appeared on the walls of the Hong Kong Central Government Offices, with citizens posting colourful post-it notes with their democratic wishes for Hong Kong during 2014 Hong Kong protests.
We came, we saw, and then we left our little “JC” in a heart. There was some really impressive art on the walls… but also just tons of names, so we went ahead and added ours.
This is definitely a sight worth checking out! It was very interesting to read about, and then come and see this wall in Prague. We walked along the wall, reading various words of encouragement, poems, and lines from Beatles’ songs.
Take Note: This wall is a little harder to find that you would think. After crossing over the Charles Bridge from Old Town the roads are layered in a way that nothing is really as it seems. Be prepared to potentially get lost. It’s worth finding though, especially since it’s close enough to other main sites in town.