Read, Write, Run, Roam

Unchain my heart: “Love Locks” in Europe

On our recent trip to Paris, I noticed a slew of locks attached to the Pont de l’Archevêché . It reminded me that we’ve seen locks on bridges in Prague and Ljubljana, and while I knew the locks represented love, I never researched why. Luckily, a New York Times article did it for me.

The article claims that installing “love locks” on a bridge became popular after Federico Moccia wrote a 2006 book titled, I Want You. In it, a man tells a woman a made-up legend in which lovers encase a lock around a bridge, lock it and throw the key into the Tiber, to show that they’ll never leave each other. After the book sold over a million copies, life became art. However, it’s worth noting that one  journalist actually cites it as a Serbian tradition from World War II, when couples from the town of Vrnjacka Banja symbolically sealed their love before the men went off to fight.

Regardless of its origin, the practice hasn’t been confined to Europe. A quick web search shows that there are love lock bridges on almost every continent. I even found several websites encouraging honeymooners to bring locks with them and “seal the deal,” so to speak.

Butcher’s Bridge, Ljubljana

Here’s the thing: it’s really stupid. Not only do the locks damage stonework and affect the weight of the bridge, crappy padlocks add nothing to architectural beauty. They do make for some interesting pictures, but that’s about it.

As much as I love Muz, I’m not buying a perfectly good lock, wasting it on a bridge, and then polluting the river with a metal key.  I guess I’m just cheap. And not terribly romantic.

Besides, love–and locks–can go awry. Apparently, spurned lovers sometimes return and write terrible things about their (former) loved ones on locks and bridges. So while I’m all for tradition, especially Serbian ones, I’d advise people to leave their locks for luggage–and seal your love with a kiss instead.

Prague’s Love Locks


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