The Writing on the Wall

We've noticed that the US and Prague have one thing in common - graffiti. We were disappointed to see that historical buildings, more than a 150 years old, can't even escape this blight.

We've heard that in the early 1990s, shortly after the Czech Republic gained freedom from communism, the young people expressed their freedom by leaving their mark behind as graffiti. I can understand their need to celebrate, but marking up historical buildings doesn't add much aura to the city.

Everywhere you go, someone has left a mark behind even if it's on a famous historical site. Some identify their graffiti as art - which in some cases seems to be true, but that still doesn't make it right. Some of the decorative graffiti takes much talent to produce.

The authorities in this city have tried to curb the graffiti because it's against the law, but that doesn't stop the young people from doing it. There are markings on every metro train that I've ridden on including the escalators that take people down to the train platforms.

I would guess that 75-80% of the buildings that I see on a daily basis have markings of some kind. My husband and I think that it's a big detraction to the beautiful city we live in. We don't understand why kids can't comprehend this. When we were in Salzburg last month, the contrast was noticeable. We didn't see any scrawlings  - at least in the tourist areas in that city. It was nice.

The most amazing thing about all this is a graffiti wall that is a major tourist attraction in Prague. It was originally named the John Lennon Wall because it started with a large picture of him. People then added their own paintings around it. This happened in the 80s even before freedom came to the country, so it has layers and layers of paint over the original picture. We were surprised to actually see a picture of Lennon once again painted on a part of the wall when we saw it recently.

I doubt if we'll see graffiti like this when we're in St. Petersburg. I'll keep you posted on that.


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