It all starts with an old Serbian tale, dating back to World War 1. In a small town in the outskirts of Serbia, a young couple, engaged and deeply in love, would meet regularly by a bridge known as the “bridge of love”. The young Serbian officer, however, was shipped off to Greece to fight in the war. There, he met a young Greek woman and they fell in love, thus ending the engagement back in Serbia.
This heartbreaking story served as a cautionary tale for the woman of this small Serbian town, and the young woman started writing their names, along with their loved ones, on padlocks as a symbol of their eternal love, forever locked in their hearts. They would lock these love locks on the railings of the “bridge of love” as a reminder of the tale of the young Serbian officer. And this, is the story of how “love locks” came to be.
Fast forward to the beginning of the 20th century. The Serbian tradition of old is revived, and couples worldwide start locking padlocks with their names on bridge railings. While it is unclear how and when the tradition started in each location, it has become a well-known romantic gesture for lovers of all ages.
The most famous bridge to call itself home for these love locks is the Pont des Arts in Paris, France. Tourists from all over make sure to stop at this romantic spot over the Seine River to lock their love away. In fact, this bridge is so packed with padlocks that every couple of years the locks are removed due to the heavy weight pressuring the bridge. While this bridge is undoubtedly the most famous, there are about 11 other bridges along the Seine in Paris that feature love-locks.
In addition, there are other famous love-lock spots worldwide. The Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome has been an extremely popular love-lock location since 2006, when a famous Italian book “I Want You” ignited the tradition in Italy. Also, these locks of love can be found on bridges in Australia, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Las Vegas and New York.
As this tradition continues to grow on a global scale, so do the problems that surround this romantic gesture. Governments have been trying to fight the love-lock tradition and have been removing these locks due to aesthetic concerns as well as safety concerns due to structural damage caused by the weight of these padlocks. So, go on down to your special bridge, lock your love and throw away the key. But hurry, before it’s too late!