Padlocks keep love safe in Poland

On Valentine's Day, traditional symbols of love like roses and chocolates are nowhere in sight on the historic Tumski bridge spanning the river Oder in Wroclaw, western Poland.

This favourite haunt of lovers is covered in padlocks - thousands of them in various sizes and colours and all symbolizing undying love.

"We throw away the key and our love lasts for centuries," says Jola, a university student who clamped a Valentine's Day padlock on the bridge with her boyfriend Maciej.

"It's a place where we seal our love so it can never escape us," Maciej, a fellow student, told AFP.

The romantic ritual of "love padlocks" has also caught on in other European cities, notably Paris, Rome, Kiev and Riga.

But the practice still comes as a surprise to some.

"In Holland it's probably illegal to attach locks to bridges. It's public property. It would cost a lot of money to remove every padlock," says Dutch tourist Juliette, visiting Wroclaw with her German boyfriend Jonas.

In the long-term, the extra weight the padlocks bring to Tumski bridge could pose a danger. But experts say it would take ten tons of them to do any real damage. So true romantics still have plenty of room to demonstrate their affections.

"It's our second padlock and we've attached it to the first one. We want to make a love chain, attaching a new padlock each year," says Piotrek, who is accompanied by his sweetheart Monika.

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