efe-epaPrague

A wall in the Czech capital that has for almost half a century drawn urban artists to use it as a canvas to spread political messages has been renovated with new graffiti.

Some 20 artists from five countries have given the John Lennon Wall in the city center a new look.

The wall, part of the Knights of Malta compound, is in the Mala Strana district at the foot of the gothic Prague Castle.

Since the 1970s, during the era of Communist rule, the wall has been used as a site of artistic expression as a form of protest against the lack of freedom during that period.

The wall was whitewashed repeatedly but authorities never managed to keep the landmark intact for long as it became a magnet for the Czech youth movement seeking to spread their messages of political activism.

Following the murder of the Beatles' John Lennon in 1980, the wall became a memorial in his honor and a symbol of the peace movement against the Communist regime.

With the 30th anniversary of the arrival of democracy to Czechoslovakia, now split into the countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, some 150 meters of the wall have been spruced up by local artists and international ones from Slovakia, Serbia, Canada, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

A large portrait of the first president of the Czech Republic after the fall of Communism, Vaclav Havel, philanthropic slogans and reminders of the past three decades were some of the new details that featured on the mural.

"A future of freedom," "Don't sell your dreams," "Czech Republic celebrates 30 years of freedom," were some of the slogans commemorating the shift to democracy back in 1989.

On every anniversary of Lennon's death, Dec. 8, 1980, people have gathered at the wall to remember the musician and the ideology of freedom and pacifism.

Some historians consider that these meetings were the root of the student protest marches of November 1989, which went down in history as the Velvet Revolution.

During the Communist period, exponents of the "underground" world used to come out under the cover of darkness and use white chalk to create their street art.

Today it is art students, the odd famous person or members of protest art movements, who come out to showcase their skills with cans of spray paint in the light of day.

gm/sh/ch