Whoever visited our most famous spa, had to at least cross the bridge of love, unless he hung a padlock. Like any cult place, the Vrnjačka bridge of love is described by a legend, a little over a hundred years old. A story about love and its strength, the destructive power of emotions and human sorrow, a story about two young people who fell in love and whose love came to an end. It is a story about officer Relja and a young teacher Nada, young people from Vrnjačka Banja, who fell in love and believed. Their love began and continued in the sign of meeting on one of the 20 or so Vrnjačka bridges, which connect the two banks of the Vrnjačka river.
The whole of Vrnjačka Banja talked about the strong love between Nada and Relja, and it seemed that nothing could stand in the way of their happiness. And while Relja and Nada loved each other, not knowing anything else, unfortunate circumstances wove a dark web over the world culminating in the outbreak of war, which contemporaries called the Great, and history books christened as the First World War.
With the beginning of the war operations, Relj, being an officer, is sent to the battlefield in Greece and there is a reversal in his love for Nada. At the front, Relja falls in love with a beautiful Greek woman, breaks off his engagement to Nada and after his life, the legend says nothing more.
Although Relja’s further destiny is unknown to us, the destiny of teacher Nada played out quickly and in the eyes of all the people of Vrnjačka Banja. Unable to bear such a painful blow and unable to get over Relja, Nada lands day by day and her life is extinguished day by day, eventually completely leaking out of her. That is how the young teacher from Vrnjačka Banja, Nada, died out of love.
The people of Vrnjačka Banja are deeply shaken by the fate of the unhappy Nada, and the girls from Vrnjačka Banja visit the favorite meeting place of the once happy couple, Vrnjačka Bridge, and lock padlocks on its two fences, believing that this act will preserve their love for all eternity. The keys of the padlocks that would be locked, the girls then threw into the river, in order to remain forever closed.
As the years and decades passed, and people and new wars changed, the memory of Nada’s sad fate faded, threatening to completely fall into oblivion. Desanka Maksimović brought a turnaround with her arrival in Vrnjačka Banja. During her first visit, the famous Serbian poetess fell in love with this Serbian health resort, which she then continued to visit often, showing great interest in the past, tradition and forgotten stories from the area of Vrnjacka Banja. Thus, during one of her visits, she learned about the legend of Relja and Nada, and that story left such a strong impression on her that she was inspired by their lives, and wrote one of her most beautiful songs in Vrnjačka Banja – “Prayer for Love”.
This renewed the memory of Nada’s tragic love as well as her interest in this sad story. Trembling words were resurrected, with which the story of Nada and Relja was passed from generation to generation, and the bridge on which these two young people met began to arouse the interest of tourists.
Soon with the story, the old custom of locking padlocks on this bridge was resurrected and just as the padlocks were lined up, so were the circumstances that resulted in talking about the bridge where Nada and Nada used to meet outside Vrnjačka Banja. Relja, in the time before Relja betrayed their love.
Shortly afterwards, the bridge was christened with a symbolic name – “Bridge of Love”, and a plaque with an excerpt from Desanka’s song “Prayer for Love” was placed on the concrete part of its fence.
Locking the padlock for the fence of the bridge has become an unavoidable item for all lovers who visit Vrnjacka Banja. The padlocks that girls used to lock their love with are no longer foreign to boys, who express their affection with the same gesture.
Today, on the fence of this bridge, only 10 meters long, there are locked thousands of padlocks, which keep stories of many loves.
In several places in Vrnjačka Banja, it is possible to buy your padlock, and then walk to the bridge, which differs from others that tower over the Vrnjačka River only by a “strangely decorated” fence and a lot of love woven into it, and contribute your emotion to the story of love. the boundaries were unknown and which overcame both life and death.
The Bridge of Love is the inspiration for the “Kiss Me” event, which takes place on Valentine’s Day. It is held on February 14 in Banja, as well as for “Love Fest” music festival inspired by this story.
Many will say that you need two for love, but if you come to visit Vrnjačka Banja, you will also need a padlock. Just in case. Because, two are necessary for happy love. One can love. And for eternal love, Vrnjacka Banja, the bridge of love, the padlock and the heart that knows no borders are indispensable.