Traces of Places

While many countries are concerned about so-called “love locks” damaging the aesthetics and/or structural integrity of their bridges, going so far as to either forbid or remove them, the Finnish capital of Helsinki passed laws in 2010 allowing them on any of the city’s bridges. One bridge in particular is especially popular, despite its small size, namely, the Rakkauden Silta (“Bridge of Love”) which crosses over a narrow section of the Vantaa River beneath the imposing Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral. A love lock is simply just a padlock that  sweethearts  lock onto a public fixture, such as a bridge, fence, gate, or monument, as a symbol of their unbreakable love.  Typically, the lovers’ names or initials are inscribed onto the padlock and the key is then thrown into a nearby river.

The history of love padlocks is said to date back to World War I, to when a schoolmistress from the Serbian town of Vrnjačka Banja fell…

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