Thousands honour victims of Prague shooting in city centre

Commemorative procession in honour of the victims at Jan Palach square in front of the Faculty of Arts

Thousands of people, mainly students and academics, took part in Thursday’s commemorative procession in honour of the victims of the tragic shooting at the Faculty of Arts on December 21. The procession took place exactly two weeks after the tragic incident, which left 14 people dead and 25 wounded.

Charles University Rector Milena Králíčková speaking from the Estates Theatre | Photo: René Volfík,

The procession, called Carrying of the Light, started with a gathering outside Carolinum, the seat of Charles University, on Thursday afternoon. The crowd, which filled the entire square in front of the nearby Estates Theatre, was then addressed by Charles University Rector Milena Králíčková:

“Our academic community is wounded, but it is not broken. Our steps today, through the streets of Prague towards the building of the Faculty of Arts, will also symbolize our journey towards healing. As the poet Paul Valery so aptly said: The wind still rises, so we must try to live.”

Thousands of candles in front of the Carolinum | Photo: René Volfík,

The crowd then marched in silence toward the main building of the Faculty of Arts on Jan Palach Square, where the tragic incident happened exactly two weeks ago. Joining hands, the people created several chains around the entire building and symbolically embraced it, remaining there in silence for several minutes.

Alex Uzunov was one of the co-organizers of the procession and one of the many students who took part.

March "Carrying of the Light" headed by Milena Králíčková,  Charles University Rector and Eva Lehečková,  Dean of the Faculty of Arts | Photo: René Volfík,

“The atmosphere was beautiful. The embrace was very emotional and we achieved what we wanted to achieve.”

Another participant, a student called Veronika, echoed his words:

“It was very powerful to hold hands with other people, who I don’t know but who are going through the same thing. We are in this together and we can be there for each other.”

Representatives of the university and students then lit a commemorative fire on Jan Palach Square, using a light from the candles outside Carolinum.

Dean Eva Lehečková and Rector Milena Králíčková with the light | Photo: René Volfík,

For the next 14 minutes, bells in Prague’s churches rang in honour of the memory of all the victims of the tragedy. The event concluded with the singing a student choir.

Thursday’s procession was the first in a series of events planned for January, called the Month for the Faculty, which aims to help students, teachers and other people cope with the tragic incident.

Human chain embracing Faculty of Arts building | Photo: René Volfík,

On Friday, students removed the thousands of candles that were lit outside the main university building Carolinum in memory of the victims. According to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Eva Lehečková, the plan is to turn them into an object of commemoration that will be displayed permanently somewhere on academic premises.

Honouring the victims of Prague shooting in city centre | Photo: René Volfík,

Meanwhile, the building of the Faculty of Arts on Jan Palach Square will remain closed at least until the end of January. The summer semester is due to start on February 19, according to the original schedule. The only exception is the fourth floor of the building, where the shooting took place. That will probably remain closed until the end of the academic year.