More protection for Prague’s Lennon wall after tourist agencies organise spray painting

John Lennon wall, photo: Jekaterina Staševska

Prague’s John Lennon wall will become more actively protected. In response to a recent practice of tourist agencies that let visitors spray paint the surface, the Sovereign Millitary Order of Malta, which owns the famous sight, has decided to press charges. A special meeting between representatives of Prague 1, the order and local residents on Tuesday agreed to a new system of administering the wall.

John Lennon wall,  photo: Jekaterina Staševska

During the 1980s a wall on a square near Prague’s Kampa Park became a symbolic place where Czechs would anonymously write their grievances against the Communist regime, often inspired by the philosophy of John Lennon.

The area eventually became known as the “Lennon wall” and has since become a popular tourist site.

However, recently the wall has been repeatedly vandalised, according to the Sovereign Order of Malta, which owns the property. The order has now called for legal action. Its media representative, Hedvika Čepelová from AMI Communications, explains.

John Lennon wall,  photo: Jekaterina Staševska
“The Czech Maltese Order made a criminal report because of evidence that there had been organised groups that damaged the property on Velkopřerovské square [where the wall is]. The organisers of these tours gave tourists free spray cans and probably didn’t tell them the exact information about what they can do on the venue.”

The chancellor of the order, Johannes Lobkowitz, says that the magical atmosphere of the area is being destroyed by vandals who spray nonsense and vulgarities on the wall that have nothing to do with the old message of resistance to communism.

The frequent spraying means that a large part of the most recent artistic repainting of the site, which was carried out in March this year, is already covered up.

Furthermore, maintaining the wall is not cheap. The order is forced to repaint damaged parts every week and is investing around half a million crowns into the reconstruction of the wall, as well as the installation of CCTV cameras in the area.

The Prague 1 local authorities have also pledged to be more active. Their plans include a campaign that will seek to raise awareness among tourists that certain behaviour can be annoying to locals.

On Tuesday, they met with representatives of the order and local residents to discuss a new concept strategy for protecting the wall.

Graffiti on Charles Bridge,  photo: ČTK/Michal Kamaryt
According to Ms. Čepelová, the meeting was successful, with the respective parties agreeing to be active in preventing illegal activity on the whole of Velkopřerovské square. She said other measures are also in progress.

“The order is also negotiating with other authorities and other institutions in an attempt to bring back the cultural content of the wall, so rather than just repressive measures, they are also positive.”

The Lennon wall is not the only iconic site in Prague to recently be covered with illegal graffiti. Last week two German nationals were caught by the police while spray painting the Charles Bridge. Aside from being expelled from the country for five years they were also forced to pay a hefty fine.