There are few things so romantic as the idea of 'locking' one's soul with another. This was the general statement being made when the world's love lock bridges came into existence. What started with Paris' Pont des Arts has since become a worldwide trend, and it's not always one with as pure consequences as its intentions.
There are many things to consider before joining in the fun of love lock bridges - like the structural integrity of the bridge itself, for instance. However, there are many love lock 'bridges' that are not bridges at all, making it perfectly safe for hopeless romantics to pin their hopes - or locks, in this case - on a fence or railing.
Here's what to know when it comes to the good, the bad, and, most interestingly, the history, of the world's love lock bridges.
The History & Meaning Behind Love Locks
While many people didn't know about the idea of a 'love lock' until Pont des Arts garnered attention for taking theirs down back in 2015, it's actually believed to be an ancient custom. The origins of the idea behind a love lock may have begun in China, where it was customary for a couple to put a lock on a gate or chain before throwing away the key. This was meant to symbolize an eternal love of sorts because without the key, there would be no 'unlocking' it. Once this key was thrown away, it was believed that - similarly to how the lock would remain locked forever - a couple's love would last the test of time.
As time went on, this custom was slowly adopted until it saw a resurgence in the Serbian town of Vrnjačka Banja. It began with two young lovers by the names of Relja, who was a soldier, and Nada, the love of his life. At the time, the region was involved in a terrible war, and it was one that Relja himself was forced to be part of. Although he and Nada were engaged to be married, and Nada believed their love would traverse eons, this was not the case. According to Culture Trip, Relja survived the war - but would go on to celebrate his survival with another woman. Sadly, it's said that Nada's young life ended with a broken heart, and many were inclined to believe it.
This heartbreak turned out to be the heartbreak heard through the entire town, and many young women did the only thing they could think to do: literally 'lock' in their love. They took to the bridge where Relja and Nada once met to lock their own keyless locks onto the bridge, in order to ensure everlasting love. Whether or not this resulted in many love stories is unknown, but it has become a tradition that has circled around the entire world.
The World's Most Incredible Love Lock Bridges
Around the world, there are bridges that feature walls and railings adorned with various locks. Some of them have initials carved into them while others are very unique in their design, but they all mean the same thing. This notion of locking one's love so that it lasts a lifetime is a beautiful thing, and it's one that can still be seen outside of Pont des Arts. In Serbia, Most Ljubavi continues to be a bridge that's filled with locks from whoever visits. It's clear that many people believe in true love because more than a century later, this bridge is still collecting locks without keys.
In St. Maarten, the St. Maarten Causeway Bridge can be found adorned with locks, as well - but a slightly better system of doing so has been implemented here. On the bridge, heart-shaped installations can be found where locks have already been clicked on. These are placed intentionally so that locks are not placed on the actual bridge, and, in a way, it's even more romantic to watch one's lock adorn a heart-shaped piece of artwork.
Those visiting California's scenic Napa Valley by train will find the Napa Valley Wine Train Love Lock Bridge, which connects the station and the boarding platform. Since there's no great structural risk here, people have snapped their own locks on for decades.
- Fun Fact: Fans of The Big Bang Theory can try and find the commemorative lock that was placed on the bridge following Amy and Sheldon's big on-screen kiss.
Love Lock Bridges: Why Some Don't Last
Unfortunately, not every love lock bridge is intended to last. In the case of Pont des Arts, the world learned that not only is love emotionally heavy - but it's also literally heavy. It's estimated that just over 16,000 pounds (7,500 kilos) was being added to the bridge annually. This eventually led to one side of the bridge's fence falling off, which was a major warning sign to officials. It's not that there was anything wrong with the act of love locking, itself - it was the fact that eventually, it would damage the bridge's structure even further.
This is why many love lock bridges today are either maintained and have lock limits, or are no bridges at all. Whether it's an art installation or a walkway that features a lockable fence, one thing remains the same: love still endures.