While visiting the Czech Republic last week, we ventured out to see the infamous John Lennon Wall. It was once just an ordinary historic wall without much significance to the city of Prague.
But during communist control in the 1980’s, John Lennon inspired graffiti and Beatles lyrics started appearing on the wall. In 1988, the communist regime of Gustav Husak became annoyed with all the activity on the wall. The younger generation didn’t seem to care, and more and more Czechs wrote their grievances in graffiti.
The tension between students and the secret police grew and the anti-communist movement became known as Lennonism. The authorities considered anyone associated with the movement deranged, sociopathic, and agents of Western capitalism.
In 1989, communism was eventually dissolved in Czechoslovakia in what was called the Velvet Revolution. It all began as peaceful student demonstrations and eventually escalated to countless gatherings and relatively peaceful protest. Eventually, the communist regime finally stepped down. Soon after, the Czech Republic and Slovakia became two different countries.
When we arrived at the wall, known as a symbol of protest from the communist era, I was somewhat disappointed to see some of the famous John Lennon art covered in fresh graffiti. But then I learned that this is what the wall is about; it’s constantly changing and represents an ongoing symbol of love and peace.
We found a pen in my bag and wrote our names in a relatively untouched area to leave our own mark and become a part of the symbol. I also discovered that the graffiti is allowed by the owners — the Knights of the Maltese Cross.
The John Lennon Wall is tucked away and you’ll have to work a little bit at finding it. When you’ve nearly crossed the Charles Bridge from Old Town, you’ll see a staircase on the left. From there, walk down and take a right and wind your way through a short corridor. The street is called the Velkopevorskana¡m Sta (Grand Priory Square), in MalÃ¡ Strana. Your hotel concierge can also help you find it with a map.
It’s worth the visit whether you’re a music lover, history buff, or looking for something free to do. It’s also an inspiring way to remember how a young generation peacefully overthrew communism.
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