Schwanenwikbrücke

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© ThisIsJulia Photography

The Schwanenwik Bridge with its candelabra and wrought-iron railing is located on Hamburg's Außenalster. A special place especially for lovers...

Erected: 1874-76
Location Uhlenhorst, near Literaturhaus
Special features: Hung with countless love padlocks

If the lock is closed, the key finally seals the love, according to the ritual. The key rusts from that point on down in the water below, out of reach; the lock remains forever connected to the balustrade, inseparable. And if the key flies in a high arc from the bridge, some proclaim the oath: per sempre, forever.

It all started in Italy, at least it is supposed, and nobody knows exactly who began hanging the padlocks from bridge balustrades and where. Perhaps it really was soldiers who fixed their padlocks to the Ponte Vecchio at the end of their training. A short time later it is known that couples hung locks on the third street lamp on the north side of the 2000-year-old Ponte Milvio, until the lamppost finally collapsed under the weight of so much love.

Today, the love locks hang from bridges around the world, in Kiev and Copenhagen, Tel Aviv and Tokyo. And in Hamburg, a Facebook group was established declaring the Schwanenwikbrücke bridge to be the official love lock bridge.

The Schwanenwikbrücke bridge with its candelabra and wrought iron railings is located on the Alster lake; under the pillars spills the Wandse which flows here into the Alster as the longest tributary. During the Second World War, the two promenade passages were quickly barricaded with steel doors to make air-raid shelters, and the passages were only opened up again on the hundredth anniversary. More than a hundred locks now hang from the bridge railings, stained or rusted, engraved and inscribed with names, anniversaries, short messages; each lock is a story. On one of these was engraved: Judith and Fabian.

Judith Wahrenburg and Fabian Wienholt met on the "MS Europa"; she worked as a physiotherapist on the cruise ship, he as a butler. The voyage passed through the Caribbean, then on to South America, and on one shore leave she spoke to him. He was sitting in a bar in Havana, smoking a Cuban cigar, she wanted to photograph him; they have been together for a year now. Since November they have had a long distance relationship: He continues to travel the world on the "MS Europa", while she is back in Hamburg and time together is precious. It is certain that a shared future will be on land. And as a symbolic act, Judith Wahrenburg and Fabian Wienholt hung a lock on the Schwanenwikbrücke bridge. Just in case.

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