Graffiti daubed by visitors on the famous John Lennon Wall in Prague will now be strictly regulated

Many visitors to Prague have enjoyed daubing graffiti on the famous John Lennon Wall, which is considered a symbol of free expression and resistance to communist-era surveillance. This popular activity will be curtailed following the announcement that the wall is to be monitored by TV cameras and converted into an open-air gallery, with graffiti strictly regulated.

A big yellow heart painted by a tourist on the John Lennon Wall in Prague.
A big yellow heart painted by a tourist on the John Lennon Wall in Prague. Image: Federica Grassi / Contributor/Getty Images

After his murder on 8 December, 1980, an image of Beatles star, John Lennon, was painted on a wall in a secluded square opposite the French embassy in the historic old town’s Malá Strana district, along with political graffiti and Beatles lyrics. Post-1989 weathering and lightweight graffiti ate away at the messages and images until little remained of Lennon but his eyes. Visiting tourists began making their own contributions, and while the wall's owners, the Sovereign of Malta, repainted it several times, it was soon covered with more graffiti and images each time.

Yoko Ono looks at a peace symbol on the John Lennon Peace Wall in Prague.
Yoko Ono, widow of Beatles star John Lennon, looks at a peace symbol on the John Lennon Peace Wall in Prague, Czech Republic. Image: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Prague 1 municipality has taken the decision to implement changes to tackle vandalism and obscene artwork, saying that the area is being overwhelmed by tourism. Some tour guides even provide groups with paint to spray their own slogans. The Sovereign Order of Malta alleges that the once-sedate setting is being destroyed by crowds of inebriated visitors, and has decided to convert the wall into an open-air gallery, with international artists recruited to honouring Lennon and Václav Havel, who led the 1989 Velvet Revolution that toppled communism.

Two visitors add graffiti to the John Lennon Wall in Prague
Two visitors add graffiti to the John Lennon Wall in Prague. Image: Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Daily spraying of the wall by members of the public will be prohibited, and will only be allowed on agreed days. This should help to pacify locals who claim that their properties are being damaged by spray paint and the tranquil atmosphere of the area is being shattered at night by rowdy visitors.