Love locks at God’s Window

Love locks have proliferated at an increasing number of locations worldwide since 2000. Now, it seems that this practice reared its head at the Viewpoint at God’s Window.

Love locks or padlocks are padlocks which sweethearts lock to a bridge, monument or public fixtures to symbolize their love. Sometimes the initials or names, even the date are engraved on the padlock and the key is thrown into the nearby river or fountain to symbolize unbreakable love.

Very romantic for the starry-eyed sweethearts, but municipal authorities as vandalism or just downright littering. It costs the municipalities money to remove them. Some municipalities, however, use this practice as fundraising projects or as tourist attractions.

Paris hosts one of the most well-known love-lock bridges, the Pont des Arts, where part of the bridge recently collapsed under the weight of padlocks. This was also the main inspiration for South Africa’s first love-lock bridge. The love-lock bridge was erected at Huckleberry’s in Magnolia Dell in Pretoria, an initiative by the organisers of Marriage Week. The bridge is already loaded with lots of symbolic, engraved locks.

The history of love padlocks, however, dates back at least 100 years to a melancholic Serbian tale of World War I, with an attribution for the bridge Most Ljubavi (lit. the Bridge of Love) in the spa town of Vrnjačka Banja. A local schoolmistress named Nada fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja. After they committed to each other Relja went to war in Greece where he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. As a consequence, Relja and Nada broke off their engagement. Nada never recovered from that devastating blow, and after some time she died due to heartbreak from her unfortunate love.

As young women from Vrnjačka Banja wanted to protect their own loves, they started writing down their names, with the names of their loved ones, on padlocks and affixing them to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet.

Love locks around the world:

China – Nearly every metal chain-link fence or metal pole in Mount Huang has been adorned with padlocks. Germany – In 2009 love locks started appearing on the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne. Spain – In Seville, padlocks can be found adorning the Puente de Isabel II Bridge. Some of it has been taken down due to the weight it was adding to the bridge. England – In London, love locks are attached to various points along the fence on Tower Bridge and Millennium Bridge. Australia – Love locks can be found on the bridges over the Yarra River in Melbourne.

The reasons love padlocks started to appear to vary between locations and in many instances are unclear. For instance, in Rome, the ritual of affixing love padlocks to the bridge Ponte Milvio can be attributed to the 2006 book, ‘I Want You’ by Italian author Federico Moccia, who made a film adaptation in 2007.

On some locations, the padlocks have been given almost legendary or superstitious character, like in Fengyuan, Taiwan, and on a fountain in Montevideo in Uruguay.

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