Sparks Fly in Seville

Triana Padlocks

Padlocks that symbolise love – the keys are thrown in the river.

Sparks fly in Seville – and it’s all in the name of love, eternity and structural maintenance.

For a few years now, lovers have fastened padlocks to the railings of the Isabel II Bridge and thrown the keys into the Guadalquivir river to symbolize their love. The bridge connects mainstream Seville with its wilder, more romantic district of Triana, and a stroll across reveals golden sparks thanks to the reflection of the strong Andalusian sun.

Apparently a cluster of ERASMUS students from Italy imported the tradition, based on the same practice at the Milvio Bridge in Rome. That in turn was inspired by the film “Ho voglia di Te” (I want you) directed by Luis Pietro. The film was based on a book by Federico Moccia. Phew! True love does travel.

View from Triana Bridge (Puente Isabel II)
View from Triana Bridge (Puente Isabel II)

But, as someone who didn’t even have a facebook or twitter account, once said, “the course of true love never did run smooth.” In this case, Seville’s authorities wage war against these amorous practices by periodically removing them. Their argument, which sounds miserably sensible, is that eventually the weight of all that interlocking metal causes structural damage to the bridge.

So they set at them with angle grinders, causing different sorts of sparks to fly.

Not sure about the significance of this. Love triangle? Wife swap?

Not sure about the significance of this. Love triangle? Wife swap?

 

For an interesting update on this love tradition, read this post on love traditions in Paris.

For a guide to Seville in context, try A Cheap Weekend Break in Seville on my other site, Cheap Weekend Breaks.

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18 Responses to Sparks Fly in Seville

  1. Patricia December 2, 2009 at 9:30 am #

    What a lovely tradition – long may it continue – a thought echoed by all the padlock manufacturers and vendors in the Seville area no doubt!!!

  2. Abi December 2, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    Yes, I’m sure ;)

  3. Mary R December 4, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    I’m so interested in these public displays of love for someone around the world. I guess it’s mildly similar to permanently tattooing the name of a loved one across your body for the world to see- that is, until you get it removed with a laser.

    Why is it so easy to get tattoos and fasten locks, but so hard to undo it?

  4. Cate December 4, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    I can imagine the authorities getting annoyed. The locksmiths must be happy about this love trend.

  5. Amy @ The Q Family December 4, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Very interesting. I have never heard of this tradition. :)

    Hmm.. I wonder the same thing about the last picture.

  6. Jen@TwoKidsandaMap December 4, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    What a neat tradition…and I love the last photo of the two locks intertwined.

  7. TheWordWire December 4, 2009 at 9:58 pm #

    What a great post — The fact that the city has to come along behind and remove them is probably all the more incentive for these rebellious lovers! Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Sharlene December 5, 2009 at 6:58 am #

    What a romantic tradition. I bet it was started by a padlock salesman. :)

  9. Abi December 5, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Ah – all you padlock salesmen cynics! Next thing you’ll be trying to tell me that Valentine’s Day is just a commercial drive to make us buy cards, roses and heart-shaped chocolate…Hang on…

  10. Kymri December 5, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    Oh how romantic! Leave it to the Spaniards to come up with such a tradition!

  11. Dominique December 6, 2009 at 6:53 pm #

    I’ve never heard of this. I guess it is sort of like carving a pair of initials into a tree. I’m always curious about public memorials like these!

  12. Dominique December 6, 2009 at 6:55 pm #

    Also reminds me of a note I saw carved into the railing at a local nature center. It was a memorial to someone’s wife after a long and happy marriage. He said he missed his wife, and that 50 years (give or take) of marriage before her death was all too brief. He’s come back each year and added a short message under the original carving…

  13. Abi December 7, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    @Kymri & Dominique – glad to see romance fighting off the cynicism!

    Dominique – your story about the annual carving is really touching. In the UK, people often donate engraved park benches to commemorate the loss of someone they loved – and to help future visitors get some rest in their favourite outdoor places.

  14. azahar December 9, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    Wow, I’ve lived here for over 16 years and have never heard of this “tradition” before now (nor noticed the padlocks on the bridge). Sounds more like a student thang, but I guess the idea is sweet. And I like that bottom photo.

  15. Abi December 11, 2009 at 10:48 am #

    Thanks @azahar. I also noticed a few on the Puente San Telmo. Maybe the idea is spreading!

  16. Vibeke March 28, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    What a place! Now that summer is just around the corner here in SPain, my thoughts wander to SEVILLA. Such passion!

  17. Scott Lunt February 14, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    We were there last October and I somehow knew what the tradition meant, but not the details. Thought it was an appropriate topic for Valentine’s Day. Thanks for the information to help me understand this recent tradition. I’ve mentioned you in my blog post at our travel site: http://travelinas.com/hopelessly-in-love-lock-it-up/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Unlocking a not-so-old Seville tradition « Mooching around Spain - July 24, 2010

    [...] to the wrought-iron railings, which I had never seen before, but had read about a few months ago on Inside the Travel Lab, Abigail King’s blog.  The locks all had two names or initials written on them in felt pen, [...]

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