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“Gift me your heart”: Love locks across the Rhine.

Posted on Feb 14, 2012 | 10 Comments

I only see one at first–it’s a bright cobalt blue, of standard size and shape, with an unexpected engraving on its side:

Sara & Dennis 29.08.08.

I hold onto it for a moment, the curved silver neck of its shackle looped around the stiff wire fence along Cologne’s Hohenzollernbrücke railway bridge, before spotting another.

Then another. And another. Each with two names (or initials) and a date etched into their sides:

Nicole and Andre 10.9.99

Thomas & Simone 22 Juli 2000

Beale & Michael 20.08.2010

This last one is followed by a short phrase, schenk mir dein Herz…, which Google so eloquently translates as, “gift me your heart.” The closer I get to the center of the bridge, the more locks there are clustered together, each fighting for space on the fence like commuters determined to keep a hold on the handrail during rush hour.

 Bridge in Cologne with Locks

 Bridge in Cologne with Locks

 Bridge in Cologne with Locks

 Bridge in Cologne with Locks

What I don’t know at the time is that these “love locks” are part of an international tradition of inscribing both your and your lover’s names onto a lock, securing it to a bridge (or monument) and then tossing the keys into the river below, as if to say: there’s no going back from here.

Nothing like keeping your love under lock and key, ay?

From the Pont de l’Archevêché in Paris to the Rialto in Venice, there hardly seems to be a famous bridge that hasn’t been claimed by couples eager to profess their love to the world. And so as I thought about a photo or two with which to celebrate this extra-lovely day, my mind kept going back to these locks in Cologne…

Happy Valentine’s day!

 Bridge in Cologne with Locks

 Bridge in Cologne with Locks

 Bridge in Cologne with Locks

  • Oh your photos are gorgeous! I’m a little bit jealous. 🙂

    Thank you for including a link to my Montmartre photo post!

    Happy Single’s Awareness day lovely lady! Hehe.

    • As are yours, my friend! And you’re so welcome–I was just excited we were on the same page with the love locks on Valentine’s 🙂 How was Paree?! Are you back yet? Let’s catch up soon before you’re off to Ireland. x

  • Emm

    Ahah. I’m having a light bulb moment because every time I see a lock of love post, I think, “but isn’t it in that city”. Now I understand – it is in many cities.

    Your last photo is really stunning!

    • Exactly! At first after I returned from Cologne, I was quite protective of its love locks–when I saw posts on ones in Verona, Italy, and elsewhere, I thought they’d copied Cologne. I soon realized no one city can claim it as their own…which is actually kinda cool 🙂

  • Sam

    I’ve seen the locks a few times on my travels, probably most in Europe. Not until reading this post did I ever consider participating though – maybe I should get a lock engraved…

    • Hey Sam, thanks for saying hello! I’ve definitely heard the locks are all across Europe…I think it’d be quite cool to do a photo essay (or even a book) on everywhere you can find them. And yes–you should definitely leave your mark somewhere 🙂

  • jen
    • Yeah! Love your depth-of-field in that picture, by the way…such a cool shot.

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