Understanding is the bridge between two minds; love is the bridge between two souls.Matshona Dhliwayo
There is something about a bridge. Since ancient times, these structures have evoked a deep sense of romance in the hearts of the lovestruck. The bridge is one of our earliest engineering wonders, joining one place to another while overcoming physical obstacles. These designed works of beauty embody form and function as well as a feeling of connection and are symbolic of promise and new horizons. The reason they attract romantic strolls and declarations of love is a mystery in the hearts of the hopeless romantics that are drawn to these structures like moths to a flame.
Charles Bridge, Prague
This picturesque stone bridge dating back to 1390, spans the Vltava river and serves as the main link between the Prague Castle and Old Town which boasts of 1000 spires. Legend has it that egg yolks were used to strengthen the mortar of the bridge and 30 baroque statues of saints will keep you company as you stroll across it. The most famous is that of St. John of Nepomuk and tradition says that if you rub the bronze plaque at his feet, you will return to Prague someday. Many couples have pledged their love for each other at dawn which is said to be symbolic of the new life of love that lies before them.
Pont Alexandre III, Paris
Regarded as the most picturesque passage over the Seine, this bridge was built in honor of the diplomatic relationship between France and Russia. The son of Tsar Alexander III proudly set the foundation stone for this bridge in 1896, and the architectural wonder was built just in time to celebrate the world’s fair of 1900. Since electric lights were also introduced to the world that same year, Paris earned her nickname as the City of Lights. Connecting the Champs-Elysees with the Invalides, the Eiffel Tower looms elegantly in the distance, and this bridge offers a breathtakingly beautiful view. Art Nouveau lamp posts line both sides of the walkway and glow while sculptures of cherubs, lions, sea creatures and two majestic winged horses, adorn the enchanted walk that has become a destination for lovers far and wide, who find themselves swept to the city of love.
Rialto Bridge, Venice
The Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square are the most visited destinations in Venice. Built in 1591, this pedestrian bridge is unique in that it houses shops on either side and has archways that look out onto the Grand Canal. The Rialto connects San Marco and San Polo and replaced a wooden bridge that had spanned the canal since the 12th century. The sides of the bridge are adorned with reliefs of St. Mark and St. Theodore who are the patron saints of Venice and keep faithful watch over all that pass whether above or beneath on romantic gondola rides.
Brooklyn Bridge, New York
This architectural marvel built in 1883, was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge. Spanning the East River, it serves as a gateway between the boroughs of Brooklyn and New York and was designed solely for the enjoyment of pedestrians. Emily Roebling, wife of the bridge architect, John Roebling, was given the first ride over the completed bridge with a rooster in her lap as a symbol of victory. In 1884, P.T Barnum is said to have marched 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge just to prove how sturdy it was!
Minnewater Bridge, Bruges
Nestled in a lovely park known as Minnewater in Bruges, Belgium, you will find the Minna Bridge that was built in 1740. The folklore surrounding the bridge is a star-crossed tale of a young woman named Minna who was in love with a warrior from a neighboring tribe. When her father arranged a marriage because he did not approve of her true love, Minna ran into the forest to escape and when she finally found her beloved Stromberg, she died in his arms on the shoreline. The bridge was named the bridge of love in her honor and legend has it that a stroll over the bridge with your loved one will result in eternal love.
Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin
Built in 1816 and a favorite landmark of the city, Dubin’s pedestrian bridge spanning the River Liffey is loved by all. But how many know its actual name is the Liffey Bridge? Before this pretty little bridge came to be, there was a ferry operated by William Walsh that became in dire need of repair. The city proposed he fix it or they would build a bridge and he agreed to the construction on the condition that he would collect a toll of a halfpenny from crossers for the next 100 years. In 1919, the city kept their promise and removed the turnstiles that once graced both ends of the bridge but long after the tolls were gone, the name Ha’penny Bridge lived on.
Most Ljubavi, Vrnjačka Banja
Most Ljubavi is a bridge in Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia that is credited with the origination of the love lock tradition that has become a worldwide craze. It all started with a pair of Serbian sweethearts named Nada and Relja who met faithfully on the bridge each day but were separated during the First World War. Relja fell in love with another woman while away at war and Nada tragically died of a broken heart when she discovered the truth. When the women of Vrnjačka Banja heard the tragic tale, they rushed to bridge where Nada and Relja had pledged their love to each other and started inscribing their names and the names of their loved ones on padlocks and anchoring them onto the railings of the bridge to seal their lovers hearts from ever straying. The tradition lives on and has spread to almost every bridge in the world as a symbol of enduring love.
Red Bridge, Kansas City
This last bridge is near and dear to my heart. I grew up on the road that shared its name with this iconic beauty and it was a dear part of my childhood. Picnics at the park and lazy days with my family while the Red Bridge stood faithfully in the distance haunts so many of my memories. I was in awe that the Santa Fe Trail wagons had passed through there hundreds of years before and left deep ruts in the earth as proof. I was white knuckled when crossing it as a new driver and it struck me with waves of nostalgia when my tires rumbled over it, homeward bound as an adult. It had the unfortunate task of spanning the Little Blue River which flooded frequently and eventually, the city decided a safer, sturdier option was necessary and designed an entirely new bridge.
Neighbors and families as sentimental as we were, fought to keep the bridge and the city created a bike trail with the Red Bridge as the focal point. My sister had a lock engraved for our parents who are getting ready to celebrate their 69th anniversary this year and we are going to gather this spring when the frogs are singing and the chilly March days are fresh with spring’s thaw, and watch them clamp that lock on the bridge. Although it is a practice that has been criticized by some, it is still a heartfelt symbol and a celebration of love for others… and there is something so romantic about a bridge.