The Art of Manhole Covers

Coburg manhole featuring Saint Moritz

Coburg manhole cover featuring Saint Moritz

Sometimes the most interesting forms of art are found under your feet.  Manhole covers have been around since Roman times to keep things from falling into the sewers and to keep monsters from getting out (just kidding!). It is not unusual for manhole covers to be decorative, as well as useful, and often the design represents something unique about the city.

The city of Coburg, Germany has a portrait of Saint Moritz or Maurice. Saint Maurice was a black African that served in the Roman army in the 3rd century and rose to a commander level although he was a Christian. Legend has it that he was martyred in Switzerland for disobeying an order to harass local Christians. His likeness can be found all over the city of Coburg, including on the manhole covers.

Augsburg manhole cover with the Swiss pine

Augsburg manhole cover with the Swiss pine

Augsburg, Germany has a stylized tree depicted on its manhole covers. The heraldic crest of Augsburg is also a tree. Reportedly, the first crest of this city from the 13th century showed the tree-of-life. In the 15th century, the tree was changed to represent a Swiss pine.

Leipzig manhole cover with lion and pales

Leipzig manhole cover with lion and pales

 

 

Leipzig’s manhole covers feature the coat-of-arms of that Saxon city. The black lion of Meissen has been on the crest since the 13th century and the pales of Landsberg were added in the 15th century.

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