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Love locks on the Groenburgwal drawbridge in Amsterdam.

The Staalmeester drawbridge that crosses the Groenburgwal canal is one of my favourite spots in Amsterdam. I always make it a point to bring visiting friends to this bridge as the view of the canal and the Southern Church are absolutely gorgeous. Recently, I’ve begun to notice the appearance of love locks (or love padlocks) on the chains that hold up the bridge. Love locks are also appearing on the Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug), one of Amsterdam’s most famous bridges, which crosses the Amstel River.

Love locks are a rather recent phenomenon – its origins are debatable but some say it started as a ritual on the Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome. Since then, these locks have been appearing on bridges around the world – I guess there’s a pent-up need to express one’s everlasting love for one another – and along with them, concerns that these locks are damaging the bridges, many of which (especially in Europe) are historic monuments. A famous example is the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris which was almost crippled by an estimated one million (!!) love locks. In fact, part of the parapet of the bridge collapsed under the weight of the padlocks in 2014!

I’m not a fan of these locks. They’re a unique expression of love – I appreciate the symbolism of it – but, in my view, they’re ruining the aesthetics and, in some cases, the structure of these beautiful bridges. Perhaps the city councils could create purpose-built structures, like this iron tree in Moscow, to preserve our monuments. Expressing our love for one another is the most beautiful thing there is, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of damaging our precious and fragile historic monuments. I urge everyone to please refrain from attaching love locks to monuments and bridges wherever they are to preserve these structures for generations to come.

7 Responses

  • I like them … but they should have purpose-built walls to house them once they start cropping up!

  • right..i agree with your point of view..i think people doing it just want to try and experience it somehow..nothing more than that..

  • Couldn’t agree more. It’s an terrible thing to do to a monument and is just plain nasty looking. I also agree about the ‘purpose built structure’ possibilities. We saw one one of the tallest buildings in Busan, South Korea that was really well done and didn’t ruin the already great building and the view it offers.

  • The little town of Lovelock, Texas has capitalized on this trend. It has a plaque explaining the origins of the idea and thousands of locks!

  • I’m against them. The first ten people who did it were clever and witty and had a unique idea. Now it is an old and tired bandwagon that needs to be retired. They are not gorgeous to look at and they seem to be springing up like mushrooms on the bridges of Europe. Enough! I agree – provide a purpose-built structure for people to bolt their love onto and regularly cut off any locks that are attached to anything other than the approved structure.

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