Prague is among the world's most beautiful and beloved cities. A bastion of arts and culture, the Czech Republic capital was home to some of the world's greatest artists, including writer Franz Kafka and composers Antonin Dvorak and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Jazz flourished in the ’30s, and terror reigned in the ’40s.
However, neither the swastika nor the hammer and sickle could extinguish the vibrant light burning within the Czech people. As the cold war entered its final act in the 1980s, symbols of peace and freedom began to emerge from the darkness.
December 1980 was a dark month. The assassination of John Lennon struck a chord deep within the heart of the Czech people. Shortly after his death, artists risked imprisonment to paint Lennon's image on the wall at Velkoprevorsky Namesti (Grand Priory Square), just a few blocks from the world renowned Charles Bridge.
In the months that followed, other artists added their own messages of hope to the growing collage. Some posted grievances. Others, the names of those arrested, imprisoned, or killed by the government. The peaceful resistance to the communist regime paralleled the graffiti along the Berlin Wall.
Authorities attempted to catch the graffiti artists throughout the 1980s. Security cameras were installed and guards were posted, but the movement continued. Until the end of the Cold War, the wall stood as a symbol of peaceful resistance to the maligned regime.
By the end of 1989, the velvet revolution led by Vaclav Havel and many other Czech patriots had peacefully secured Czech independence. The wall remained in the background as a silent reminder of the people's determination and desire for peace.
In 1998, the wall underwent reconstruction. It was whitewashed, and the original graffiti was painted over. However, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, presiding authority over the wall, allowed artists to leave their mark once more.
In 2014, students painted over all remaining art and added a simple message: "Wall is Over." But it wasn't over. Visitors and Czechs alike continued to leave their mark.
Today, the wall is covered with symbols and slogans from around the world. There are missives to "Free Tibet" and calls to action to save the environment.
There are cues for equality and even reminders of the horrible toll that HIV/AIDs claimed.
As with the city where it was born, the Lennon Wall continued to evolve and change with the world around it. The wall, once designed to divide a nation at war, remains a symbol of hope and reconciliation.
On our Quintet Tour, you can see the monumental art piece first-hand! You can even leave your own piece of hope behind. All you have to do is bring a brush!
Get in touch with WanderList Tours today to learn more about our journey across Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria!