Lovers traveling to a special place, strolling hand-in-hand, making a vow, and leaving behind a symbol of their enduring love – what could be more romantic?
Loving couples from all over the globe have ventured to Cologne (Köln), Germany to the Hohenzollern Bridge, and the love tokens left behind are metal locks – thousands and thousands of them.
We’ve seen Locks of Love bridges in a few cities on our travels, but the Cologne bridge is the granddaddy of them all. As far as the eye can see locks cover the security fence. Our first experience with an LOL bridge was in Helsinki. We were impressed at the time, but it’s absolutely puny compared to the Hohenzollern Bridge.
For young lovers a personalized lock in a prominent public place (with a few selfies of course) may be a romantic notion, but some city officials aren’t so enthusiastic about the fad. Earlier this year, the Pont des Arts footbridge in central Paris was so weighed down with locks that a section of fencing collapsed.
A Los Angeles Times article said of the damage:
“No one was hurt, but it did spur a tweet from Bruno Julliard, the city’s head of cultural affairs, who said it ‘confirms that our desire to find an alternative to these locks is a real necessity.’ He’s not alone in that feeling.”
But not to worry. The Hohenzollern is the main rail bridge over the Rhine and into Cologne’s Central Station. Allied bombers tried repeatedly to blow it to bits in WW II, and never succeeded. So I don’t think a few thousand amorous add-ons will do much damage.
Still, the argument is a classic matter of perspective. Some would say: “Oh, it’s just a bit of fun, will you city curmudgeons just relax!” And a city official responsible for preserving historical architecture (and public safety) would have an entirely different point of view.
I can appreciate both sides of this issue, and it is just a bit of fun, until the fun becomes damaging. I’m glad I don’t have to ride herd on a Locks of Love bridge.