| Throughout the ages, lovers have looked for ways in which they can prove to the world that their love is the real thing - a commitment that will last for eternity. From poetry to a romantic serenade, from inscribing hearts on the school desk to carving initials on a tree.|
More recently, the world has seen the rise of a new and profound method of professing love and commitment. Lovers engrave their names or message onto a padlock, lock it to a fence or railing and throw away the key. The symbolism of throwing away the key is all important, representing the commitment to love, a memory that can never be unlocked.
Most sources seem to agree that the tradition began in the city of Pécs in Hungary, sometime during the early 1980s. Smitten students started hanging padlocks on an iron fence linking the main square to the medieval cathedral. Within a short time, the fence was completely covered with declarations of love and, nowadays, Pécs has gained a reputation as a paramount romantic destination.
| In Rome, the bridge Ponte Milvio has also become a sanctuary for love padlocks, a ritual that can be attributed to the book 'I Want You' by Italian author Frederico Moccia. A popular scene in this book, and later film, sees two teenage lovers writing their names on a padlock, affixing it to a Ponte Milvio lamppost and throwing the key into the Tiber River.|
However, in China, it seems that locks and keys have been used to symbolise love, marriage and eternal commitment for a great deal longer. Nowadays, one of China's most famous scenic locations, Mount Huangshan, has become a popular spot to attach a love padlock. Thousands of lovelocks hang from Lotus Peak's chain fence, placed by tourists from all around the world. Lovers throw the keys into the abyss below, thus locking their memories to the Hunagshan Mountain forever.
| Paris, arguably the world's most romantic destination, has understandably become a haven for love locks. The city's bridges, particularly the Pont des Arts (the lovers bridge) and Pont de l'Archevêché, are adorned with padlocks, whilst many other locks of love can be spotted in more personal locations throughout the city.|
Luzhkov Bridge, in downtown Moscow, has become a popular destination for romantics, so much so that the city's officials have erected a forest of 'love trees' on the bridge, tree-like sculptures which accommodate hundreds of lovelocks.
The list can go on and on - love padlocks have now become an international tradition. From Europe to North America, Asia to Oceania, hundreds of love lock sites now pepper the globe.