VRNJACKA BANJA – The Bridge of Love in Vrnjacka Banja, one of the 32 bridges, on two small rivers in Serbia’s biggest spa, has recently become famous as the New York Times mentioned it as the bridge on which sweethearts first started locking padlocks to the railings as a pledge of undying love, long before they appeared on the Pont des Arts in Paris.
At the beginning of World War I, the bridge was a favorite meeting place for teacher Nada and soldier Relja who then went to war. That tale was forgotten until Desanka Maksimovic, one of Serbia’s most distinguished female poets in the latter half of the 20th century, revived and popularized it in a poem titled “Prayer for Love”. Thus, Desanka with her poem and couples with their love locks preserve the memory of Nada and Relja and their great love story. In the article titled “On Bridges in Paris, Clanking With Love”, the New York Times mentioned Vrnjacka Banja and the Bridge of Love that has the decades-long tradition of love padlocks. “Although the locks of love started to appear on Paris bridges in 2008, their history dates back at least 100 years to a melancholy Serbian tale of World War I that recounts the love of a young schoolteacher in the spa town of Vrnjacka Banja for a soldier as he was about to go to the front. When Serbia fell, the soldier married a local woman in Greece, where he had been fighting, and never returned,” reads the article in the New York Times. Nowadays, the couples wishing to express their undying commitment inscribe their names on a padlock, attach it to the railings of the Bridge of Love in Vrnjacka Banja and toss the key into the river, hoping that their love will last forever.