About Love-Locks

Love-lock bridges are 21st-century accumulations of padlocks. Typically, a couple – possibly having written their names/initials on a padlock – will attach it to the railings of a bridge or other urban structure and throw the key into the river below, as a symbol of their everlasting love for each other.

Apparently, since Italian writer Federico Moccia published his book, Ho voglia di te (I Want You) in 2006, in which a character attaches a padlock to the Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome, local teenagers began to imitate the custom. The practice was then widely adopted by tourists, with couples writing their initials on padlocks (often sold by hawkers), affixing the padlock to the bridge, and then tossing the key into the Tiber.

These love-lock bridges are popping up all over the place: Paris, Rome, Budapest, Prague, Moscow, St. Petersburg, New York, etc. In Moscow, metal tree-like structures have been erected specifically for this purpose on Luzhkov Bridge, with a tradition having emerged during the 2000s for couples to visit the site and deposit their own love-locks on the day of their wedding. And during a recent trip to London (October 2012) I noticed about 20 padlocks, embellished with the initials of their depositors, attached to the railings on Tower Bridge. If the authorities don’t remove them, I imagine that in a few years Tower Bridge will be as prolifically adorned with padlocks as the bridges in Moscow and Rome.







I’ve been interested in love-lock bridges since 2011, when I first came across an article about the custom on the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve visited them in London, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, but was always a little saddened that the custom didn’t seem to have sprung up in my home city of Manchester. Granted, this isn’t the most romantic city in the world (plus there’s no famous river over which people can deposit their love-locks), but I still hoped that, by the processes of dissemination, this practice would eventually find its way to Manchester.

And then in February 2014, it did.

By pure, serendipitous chance, I pass a set of railings overlooking a canal, on Oxford Road, along my way to university nearly every day, and last week I just happened to notice 7 love-locks attached to them. I’m fairly certain they weren’t there a few weeks ago. Now 7 isn’t a substantial number, but I’m going to predict that – through the processes of imitation and dissemination – this number is going to multiply. And so I’m going to continue walking past this small accumulation to see if it grows – and, if it does, how quickly. So I’ll post a blog entry for every time I notice an increase in the number of love-locks and maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to trace the chronology of the establishment of a folkloric practice.


13 thoughts on “About Love-Locks”

  1. There is a love lock bridge in Tel Aviv. It’s a footbridge over the Yarkon River. I first noticed it about 18 months ago. More recently another bridge over the Yarkon also had a few locks but I haven’t checked back since last month.

    1. Hello Steph, thank you very much for getting in touch. No, I hadn’t heard of the love-locks in Ljubljana. I’d love to go there! I don’t suppose you have any photos of them that I could share on the blog? All the best, Ceri

  2. Now that Manchester are doing up Piccadilly Gardens maybe this would be the chance to have an area for love locks. Maybe some railings attached to the awful bare wall where people can attach locks to it or how about some metal trees like the one pictured about. These could be scattered around the fountain area.

    1. That’s a brilliant idea Ian. I know that Manchester Council were thinking of creating some sort of structure for love-locks, but this was a couple of years ago now and nothing seemed to happen. I’ll look into it… Thanks!

  3. Hi Ceri it’s Ross here! On a recent holiday I noticed and photographed a small collection of love-locks in Tossa del Mar. Are you familiar with these ones? I can email you and send you the photos, they look to be in some cases of some age. Regards

    1. Hi Ross. Thank you very much for getting in touch. No, I wasn’t familiar with the ones in Tossa del Mar – I’d really love to see some photos if you don’t mind emailing them over. Many thanks, Ceri

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