Padlocks of Love in Moscow, Russia

Padlocks of Love in Moscow, Russia

Throwing away the key to a padlock indicates permanence; it symbolizes forever.

That’s the sentiment behind the “love locks” that young couples have been securing to bridges the world over in the last few years. They write, scratch or engrave their names on a padlock, then on their wedding day, still in their wedding finery, they lock it to the stanchions of a bridge and together toss the key into the river below. It means they will live together happily ever after.

Bridge of LoveThe modern tradition has caught on so quickly in Moscow, Russia that the city leaders have provided a forest of metal trees on the Lyuzhkov Bridge specifically to accept and celebrate the padlocks. In some places the locks are considered litter or even vandalism, but here in Moscow love is encouraged.

Trees of LoveAnd these trees of love are a sight to see. The sculpted saplings are obscured by their crop of padlocks, whose different sizes, shapes and colors flash in the sun. Antique locks with huge old keys are particularly popular at the moment. Almost any day of the week, though most often on Saturdays, you can see fresh, hopeful brides and grooms standing by the rails, flinging their keys behind them into the muddy Moscow River.

Padlocks of Love in Moscow, Russia <br>Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

Padlocks of Love in Moscow, Russia
Photo credit: Jenelle Birnbaum

The Flip Side of LoveOn the flip side of this optimism is the idea that you can’t unlock the padlock unless you’re willing to dive to the mucky bottom and search among the rusted oil drums and dead fish for a tiny piece of metal and then paddle to shore like a drowning rat – rather an accurate description of a messy divorce. It’s said that the divorce rate in Moscow has diminished as the “Padlocks of Love” custom has been embraced, but the science is not in yet. For the cynical and the disillusioned, a bolt-cutter would do the trick. Permanently.

Travel to Moscow with MIRYou can see for yourself what lasting love looks like on MIR scheduled tours to Moscow. You can also book a custom private journey.

(Top photo credit: Meaghan Samuels)

PUBLISHED: February 2, 2015

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