Under the bridge downtown

They say it makes the world go ’round, but love, or rather the weight of it, can also bring a bridge down. Couples the world over have declared their eternal bond to each other by locking a padlock on a bridge, and now some of the most iconic structures are at risk of collapse.

Beginnings
It felt like the late 90s, when tourist hotspots started sporting the curious, and seemingly random, padlock. According to statistics though, it was the 2000s that saw the trend really take off. Legend has it that the history of love padlocks began in World War 1. The first bridge to sport a love padlock was the Most Ljubavi (Bridge of Love) in the town of Vrnjačka Banja. A schoolteacher named Nada fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja, and after they were engaged, he went to war in Greece where he fell in love with another woman. Nada never recovered and it was said that she died from heartbreak. Young women from the town wanted to reenforce their own loves, so they started engraving the names of loved ones and their own on padlocks and affixing them to the bridge where Nada and Relja used to live.

Ponte Milvio
The 2006 book Ho Voglia di te, or I Want You, by Italian author Frederico Moccia is attributed as the real kick-starter of the lovelock trend. The book was so successful that it was adapted into a film in 2007, telling the story of Step returning to Rome after two years in New York, and never forgetting about his love for Babi.

A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks – Richard Bach

The engineer’s report
In 2010, the city of Paris declared war on the art of lovelocking. Councils there said that placing padlocks on the Pont des Arts, Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor, and the Pont de l’Archevêché bridges, “raise problems for the preservation of our architectural heritage”. On 9 May 2014, the weight of the padlocks on the Pont Des Arts bridge was blamed for the collapse of part of the parapet, so the city replaced three panels with a purpose-built type of glass that would prevent locks from being attached. On 1 June 2015, all locks were taken down due to the collapsing of the bridge.

Laws for lovelocks
In many cities, love locking can now earn you a criminal penalty. In New York for example, the city’s Department of Transportation has declared locklocking an act of vandalism and will impose fines of around $100 to those who disobey. They cite that the padlocks create constant maintenance costs and are dangerous for to vehicles travelling below the pedestrian promenade. And it’s not just New York to outlaw the act. Bridges in England, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Scotland and even here at home, are having locks removed.

Three of the Best

  • Pont des Arts Bridge, Paris, France

– the most famous lovelocking location in the world is a pedestrian bridge over the river Seine in the City of Love.

  • Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne, Germany

– 2009 kicked off the lovelocking trend on this bridge over the river Rhine in Cologne.

  • Mount Huang, China

– Fences overlooking Mount Huang in China are heavy under the weight of padlocks, where sweethearts lock their soul together on the bridge and throw away the key in the valleys below.

Check out Pont des Arts Bridge, Paris, France on TripADeal’s package Incredible Europe here.

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