Two people identified only as foreigners sprayed graffiti on a support pillar of Charles Bridge, one of Prague’s top tourist attractions and a cultural monument.
The foreigners, aged 23 and 30, were caught by police spraying a 5 meter by 2.2 meter logo on a stone bridge support at Kampa near U Lužického semináře street. The image had an inverted cross on either side in black, and what looks like the word “sepsis” in blues letters with a black outline, with an inverted cross as the letter “i”, topped by a halo or flat circle.
A local resident saw the vandals in action and called the police, who arrived while they were still on the scene. The two graffiti sprayers were caught “blue handed,” as it were, with blue paint on their clothes and hands.
Metropolitan Police spokesman Jan Rybanský said police were dealing with the case and have initiated criminal proceedings. Charges have not yet been filed, but the two vandals could face up to three years in prison, as Charles Bridge is a cultural monument.
The incident was condemned by Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates). “Spraying on Charles Bridge is a total cultural barbarism,” he wrote on Twitter. “It is good that the perpetrators were caught and will be held responsible. Prague offers many legal graffiti areas, so we will not tolerate illegal spraying,” he added.
This is not the first time Charles Bridge has been vandalized with graffiti. On Feb. 25, 2016, at around 3 am, two people sprayed an illegible message in white paint on the railings near the Old Town side of the bridge. That message said in part “swop #BeBop 21\-16 Charles Bridge.” The incident was caught on security cameras.
The vandals were later identified as French tourists, but they had already returned home by that time.
A Japanese tourist in December 2014 painted on an underpass that was part of the National Theater. In October 2014, a French tourist painted teeth and a tongue on the National Theater itself.
The Astronomical Clock Tower has also been damaged by vandals on several occasions.
Writing graffiti was added to the Criminal Code in 2010. The normal penalty is one year in prison, but for cultural monuments it increases to three.
Charles Bridge has been standing for over 650 years, with construction beginning in 1357. It is the oldest bridge in Prague and the second oldest bridge in the Czech Republic.