When I was walking around Bratislava, I passed through a small pedestrian bridge – before the entrance of the old town at Michael’s gate. On the railings I saw a lot of lockers with some initials and hearts on them. I saw the same thing on a platform near the river Danube. So I took some pictures and as soon as I got home, I searched for information about that habit.
And here’s what I found
A love lock or love padlock is a padlock which couples lock to a bridge, fence or a gate to symbolize their love. Usually the names or initials of the couple are written on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable and everlasting love.
The history behind that tradition comes from a sad tale located in Serbia at least 100 years ago, and it refers to the Bridge of Love (Most Ljubavi) in the town of Vrnjačka Banja.
And the story goes like this:
Nada, a local schoolmistress, fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja. After they committed to each other, he went to war in Greece (World War I), where he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. As a consequence, they broke off their engagement. Nada never recovered from that devastating blow and after some time she died due to a heartbreak from her unfortunate love.
So young women from Vrnjačka Banja who wanted to protect their own love, started writing their names together with the names of their loved ones on padlocks and place them to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet. The keys are thrown into the river below, so they cannot be found ever again. And evidently the bridge acquired the name Bridge of Love.
In the rest of Europe, love padlocks started appearing in the early 2000s.