The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported earlier this week about the collapse of a section of railing on the famous Pont des Arts in Paris owing to the many love locks secured to the bridge.
(photo courtesy of The Guardian)
Curious about the history of defacement of public property in the name of love, I came across this explanation from Wikipedia:
“The history of love padlocks dates back at least 100 years to a melancholy 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, who was from Vrnjačka Banja, 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 girls from Vrnjačka Banja wanted to protect their own loves, they started writing down their names, together 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.“
With Paris being one of the world’s most romantic cities it is easy to see how its bridges are covered with love locks, though I’ll wager that few couples know how the tradition may have begun. We’ve seen the locks in Florence and Rome (of course, all of Italy is romantic, too, so this makes some sense); Prague (castles and medieval streets are terribly romantic); and have also seen them in cities that would likely not make a “Most Romantic Destinations” list, like Frankfurt and Berlin. Additional research identified Salzburg as a “Love Lock” location, so more than just the hills are alive to our west. This started me wondering, “What about Vienna?”
So off I set to conduct a little research. The city of Vienna counts over 1.700 bridges within its borders, though I suspect the definition of “bridge” is rather broad. Other Vienna blog writers have found a love lock or two in a few places around the city, but nothing on the order of Paris. With a whopping n=4 of bridges in my sample I counted fewer than 20 locks before ending my research to meet up with my favorite guy for lunch, a decidedly more romantic activity.
My initial conclusion was that the Viennese in general are too reserved and proper to deface public property. Then again…
…and even in places where street art is permitted there is unlawful graffiti. Hypothesis foiled.
Perhaps the utilitarian bridges don’t inspire a public declaration of romance? Maybe “Genuss” and “Gemütlichkeit” are the Viennese equivalents? Or, might the Viennese be none too keen with a tradition dating from The Great War? 😉