Locks of love are the padlocks fixed by loving couples, on to a fence or a pole or metallic chain/string alongside some wall etc at a public place, to symbolize their eternal love. A couple would hang a padlock after inscribing their name or initials on it and throw the key away so that their love is locked forever. Some couple use two inter-twined locks, each lock bearing their name/initials. Besides lovers, often family members and close friends also put such locks at these places, to lock their relationship forever.
The tradition probably originated from China where the love locks can be seen at several locations alongside the Great Wall of China and also in many temples and on the steps/paths leading to sacred peaks.The tradition has spread around the World and is now quite prevalent in South Korea, Japan, Guam, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Russia, USA etc.
Padlocks have also appeared in Russia on iron bar Tree shaped structures. Most are placed by newlyweds on the Luzhkov bridge in downtownMoscow. A popular Russian custom for newly weds is to write their names on a lock and attach it to the side rails of the city bridge. It’s romantic, but a total nuisance for the authorities (who have to keep the bridge structurally sound). Their creative solution was to erect metal branched poles on the bridge and have the couples carry out their vandalization there. Makes for a very interesting exhibition.
First starting at the bridge Ponte Milvio in Rome the ritual of love padlocks has gained a significative presence in Italy, mainly inspired by a fictional event in the teenage-oriented book I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia, which later made it into the cheesy film-adapation Ho voglia di te. In Florence, Italy, love padlocks have been affixed to the railing around and near the statue of Benvenuto Cellini located at the centre of the Ponte Vecchio. In Bologna on the Via Malcontenti. The same happens in Ventimiglia on the Passerella Squarciafichi between the old town and the new part of the town and in Turin, Italy, in several parts of the city. Perhaps the most famous example in Italy takes place on the Via Dell’Amore, a path connecting the towns of Manarola and Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre. The pathway’s legend holds that it was a meeting place for lovers from the two towns, and is now a favorite site for tourists to place their locks and throw the keys into the sea. Love padlocks are also attached to the Ponte Talvera in Bolzano, a short walk west from the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.
Seoul, South Korea
Along a fence on the ground terrace attached to the North Seoul Tower on Mt. Namsan in central Seoul, thousands of locks have been hung to represent the love of their owners. The keys for the locks are often thrown away as an ensurance the sweethearts’ vows to never separate. Due to the danger posed by thrown keys, the tower operator has posted warning signs and provided a “key bin” for their disposal.