Across the world, bridges hold hundreds, sometimes even thousands of padlocks. There’s no doubt the love locks have become a highly popular phenomenon.
Many people believe that it originated in conventionally romantic cities such as Paris, but this is in fact not the case. The tradition actually began in a small Serbian town, from the ashes of a denied love.
In 1914, the town of Vrnjačka Banja found themselves to be a part of the conflict in Europe. Many young Balkan men were sent off to war, knowing that this meant potentially never returning.
A soldier named Relja, similar to many others had many reasons to stay home, but his main reason was his romantic lover Nada. The two lovers were completely inseparable, and quickly committed to spending the rest of their lives together and got engaged, dreaming of building their futures together and a family.
However, Austria declared war on Serbia, and Relja had no choice but to go and fight for his country. Nada was devastated, but truly believed that he would return safely.
While at battle, Relja fell in love with another girl and never returned to the village. Nada never recovered from the grief, and died young from a broken heart.
The other women in the town were very disturbed by what had happened, and decided they needed to protect their romantic futures. The women of the town bought padlocks in mass quantities and would write their names with their lovers on the bridge. The keys were thrown into the river, which (for them) ensured a lifetime of fidelity for them.
The story spread around and young lovers across town began to do the same. Eventually it became known as the Bridge of Love. Soon enough, it became a trend across the world, but very popular cities such as Barcelona and Paris had to cull the locks to preserve the bridges. In Serbia however, the locks have never been removed.