Locks of Love
December 9, 2010 8:47 PM   Subscribe

"Love Padlocks" (SFW) - not what you might think they are.

Paris, May 2010 : "...the Socialist-run town hall has announced that lovers' growing trend of sticking cadenas d'amour (love padlocks) to the railings of the Pont des Arts bridge over the Seine linking the Left Bank to the Louvre is defacing the monument and has to stop."

"For decades now a custom has slowly been creeping across the world whereby loving, romantic, and sometimes superstitious couples have decided to write messages on padlocks, attach them to certain landmarks in specific areas - more often than not railings and fences - and then throw away the key. The practice, as well as symbolising a couple’s unending love for each other, is in some countries thought to bring good luck to a relationship."

Other love padlock sites:

Luzhkov Bridge, Moscow, Russia (alternate view)
Florence, Italy
Glasgow, Scotland

Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia

They are everywhere.
posted by HopperFan (38 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Holy cow. Something that I have never heard of, is incredibly neat, and is presented perfectly.

posted by Curious Artificer at 9:01 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

So what happens when The Man comes by with lock cutters? As long as you don't know your love is still intact?
posted by djduckie at 9:01 PM on December 9, 2010

djduckie might be on to something. We should ban lock cutters and watch the divorce rate plummet.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:04 PM on December 9, 2010

Pécs, Hungary is the generally acknowledged originator of this. I thought the Wikipedia picture was funny, because you can still discern that there's a gate there. Nowadays, it looks like a giant tank made solely of locks and has spilled across to all the neighboring gates as well.

A Hungarian policeman told me that a big problem they have is catching people trying to hack through hundreds of locks to get to the 'one' immortalizing a now-discarded love. Frequently, removal and destruction of old love locks is a condition imposed by superstitious new lovers before said new romance can truly begin. I always like looking at the hacked up locks and wondering what went wrong.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:05 PM on December 9, 2010 [11 favorites]

I should have been more suspicious when my (ex-)partner claimed we could make do with a rubber band.
posted by Abiezer at 9:06 PM on December 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

Google images of "Pécs love locks" - lots of good stuff.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:07 PM on December 9, 2010

Google images of "Pécs love locks" - lots of good stuff.
That is incredible. I love how at this point people are just locking locks to other locks.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 9:22 PM on December 9, 2010

This is really cool. I'd like to padlock this post to a post somewhere.
posted by scratch at 9:42 PM on December 9, 2010

Oh God, Peg!
posted by Mblue at 9:44 PM on December 9, 2010

In one of those coincidences-your-brain-is-wired-to-read-too-much-into, I discovered the existence of love padlocks literally the day before discovering that a small crop of them is starting to grow at one spot on the railing-fence at nearby Echo Point. I don't think many of us Australians know about love-locks yet, but this is a tourist town and every tourist is contractually obligated to go to Echo Point even if there's an impenetrable fog, so it's not surprising that love-locks have made it here.

Last I checked, the local collection are all just ordinary cheap padlocks, some engraved. The specially-made-for-this-new-market heart-shaped ones have not yet begun to sprout.

When age and bitterness claim the last of my soul, I can see myself going there in the night, shimming the locks open one by one and hurling them into the abyss.
posted by dansdata at 9:49 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Poor lamppost.
posted by peeedro at 9:56 PM on December 9, 2010

Oh great, now my significant other is going to insist we fly to Paris just to place a lock on the bridge. That turns into a weekend and a trip to London and...
posted by AugustWest at 10:21 PM on December 9, 2010

I've recently been to N Seoul Tower, and the locks are indeed there, in abundance. It's a very sweet idea, methinks. As far as I'm aware, the Koreans have no tradition of hacking them back off if the relationship fails.
posted by Chasuk at 10:55 PM on December 9, 2010

Give us about a thousand more years and all the major cities will be buried in glittering webs of interconnected locks, with niches carved out in the walls for people to rest in between orgies.
posted by hermitosis at 11:04 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah they do this on the TV tower on top of the mountain I live next to - Shonandaira, Hiratsuka, Japan - the local govt. comes along and cuts them all off every few years.
posted by gomichild at 11:14 PM on December 9, 2010

This really appeals to my love of key-related symbolism. Nice post.
posted by NoraReed at 11:20 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just got back from China, and I can confirm, these are all over the Great Wall, at least in the lower, more easily reached areas.
posted by Myca at 1:01 AM on December 10, 2010

This really appeals to my love of key-related symbolism. Nice post.

Like this?
posted by ennui.bz at 1:03 AM on December 10, 2010

I saw five or six of these on the Golden Gate bridge last weekend. I figured it was something like this.

For the record, I'm opposed to this. Get your love off my public works.
posted by aubilenon at 1:04 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another one: the Hohenzollern bridge in Cologne.
posted by neushoorn at 1:28 AM on December 10, 2010

the first place i heard of this custom was on the reality show the amazing race, a few years ago. one of the challenges was to find and unlock a padlock on that specific mountain site in china. the contestant was given a key and set loose to find the one lock it would open -amongst the thousands. people's hands started to bleed, after awhile.

like aubilenon, i spotted some of these on thee golden gate bridge recently. it makes sense that it is tourists who've placed them there. i love the ones on the chain that runs along the chinese wall. not so sure i like 'em on the GGB. the few that are there are affixed to the chain link that runs along te first part of the bridge. that fence is already pretty ugly; the padlocks don't improve the looks of it.

those russian iron lock trees? now, those are BRILLIANT.
posted by lapolla at 2:10 AM on December 10, 2010

Very very nice, very sweet, I'm enough a dork that I'd do this in love. It's humbling, this whole being human thing, but nice, too.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:19 AM on December 10, 2010

Oh awesome. I saw those ones on the bridge when I went to Florence and was just bamboozled. They seemed to have grown there like barnacles.
posted by RokkitNite at 2:37 AM on December 10, 2010

Speaking of Korea, when I visited Busan, we stopped at an observation deck on the roof of a large mall and they had love locks there, too. A coffee shop in the mall actually sold locks for couples to buy, which takes away some of the romance, but overall I think it's a very sweet idea.
posted by Shesthefastest at 4:23 AM on December 10, 2010

I love my bicycle.
posted by orme at 5:23 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

An Italian friend just calls them vandalism.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:24 AM on December 10, 2010

They are vandalism, as far as I'm concerned. They're starting to appear on every goddamn bridge one might enjoy walking across. Several towns, including mine in Northern Italy, are cutting them down. It's a fad, it's tacky, it's fricking clumps of locks barnacled to lamp posts. Stop it, please.

Better than marking your visit to Juliet's house in Verona (tourist trap, of course) by sticking chewed gum all over the walls, to be sure, but vandalism none the less.

posted by lydhre at 6:24 AM on December 10, 2010

I like that it makes an analogy between an ostensibly voluntary romantic relationship; and fastening a lock, then throwing away the key.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:26 AM on December 10, 2010

I've seen one in Los Angeles... ... ... gosh I wish I could remember where. I had no idea what it was. Maybe 10 or so locks total.
posted by nutate at 7:08 AM on December 10, 2010

Damn, the photos make my lock-picking fingers twitch. So many locks. Just sitting there. With no keys. Abandoned. Begging to be opened.


I could spend hours blissfully zoned out, undoing people's testaments to love.
posted by quin at 8:05 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

How about using a combination lock and then forgetting the combination.

"No, baby. I totally forgot the combination. No idea what it was."
"Good, cuz, uh... me too..."
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:01 AM on December 10, 2010

Having considered this option, drinking a glass of wine with my beloved and then breaking the glass is still my preferred way to represent love.
posted by dry white toast at 9:35 AM on December 10, 2010

I first saw these on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and got the impression it was a local thing, I had no idea it was a worldwide phenomenon.

I did realize the urge to stick chewing gum on things was widespread, though.
posted by TedW at 9:37 AM on December 10, 2010

"What about this sign in Seoul urging people not to throw the keys away? What's up with that?"

There are problems with people below getting beaned by enthusiastically thrown keys, they have provided a key bin for your convenience and the safety of others.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:45 AM on December 10, 2010

The wikipedia page mentions this at Huang Shan in China, but having visited Hua Shan I can confirm they do it there too. You can buy the padlocks for just a dollar or so all along the mountain and place them on the chains that act as guardrails.

In a few spots there were ENORMOUS lock-chains where the locked-together locks formed long, thick chains running down a face of rock. It's wild.
posted by tel at 4:48 PM on December 10, 2010

Thanks for the inspiration, Metafilter.
posted by pkingdesign at 6:11 PM on December 10, 2010

See, and here I though the picture I took in Paris was unique!
posted by Specklet at 6:30 PM on December 10, 2010

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