“I’d like to know that your love
Is love I can be sure of
So tell me now, cause I won’t ask again
Will you still love me tomorrow?”
– Amy Winehouse, (originally The Shirelles)
One of my favourite sights of the city of Cologne is the love lock bridge. Better known as the Hohenzollern Bridge, hundreds of rainbow hued love locks make it a sight to behold and it is one of Cologne’s well known attractions. The romantic tradition of love locks is believed to have originated from Italy during the World War I when sweethearts affixed padlocks on bridges or fences to show their loyalty to one another. This delightful ritual is still kept alive in many places across the world and the 400 meters long Hohenzollern Bridge happens to be the largest padlock bridge in the world. It is one of the first places that I had fallen in love with in Cologne and I had taken a long time to call the city home. What I love about the Love Lock Bridge (apart from the sweet tradition) is how the multi coloured padlocks brighten up an otherwise spartan industrial structure of concrete and steel with high speed trains travelling in from both sides over one of the world’s greatest rivers, Rhine.
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While on a sunny day, the locks resemble hundreds of butterflies clinging on to the metal mesh, on a gloomy grey day they add surprising and much needed pops of colour. The locks stretch from one end of the bridge to the other spanning completely over the Rhine and they come in all shapes, designs and vows. Gemstone encrusted, swan shaped, plain sturdy ones, bicycle chains, handcuffs, tin cans and wilted roses dot the bridge and golden, silver and glitter bedazzle the viewers. Tradition dictates that the lovers should throw the keys of the padlocks after fixing them on the bridge and Cologne’s visitors and locals participate in this habit with equal fervour. As beautiful as it sounds, this burden of love on the bridge is unbelievably heavy and experts estimate that the padlocks weigh over two tonnes. Fixed by married couples, couples in love, same sex couples, young and old, the love locks add a whopping 2 tonnes of weight to the bridge, raising much concern among the city’s civic authorities. Thus, the love locks are removed occasionally to sustain the tradition and what is more impressive, is the intriguing and growing collection of thousands of keys lying on the river bed of the Rhine.
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Unbelievable and controversial..and that is the crazy little thing called LOVE.
P.S – This blog post is part of the weekly series called the Cologne Diaries. Every week, Maverickbird will take on a new theme, emotion and beauty of an expat life at our home in Cologne.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE