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.


“Untimely Contemporaries” by Bernd Göbel

A statue in Leipzig entitled "Untimely Contemporaries"

A statue in Leipzig entitled “Untimely Contemporaries”

This was one of the more unusual sculptures that I saw in Leipzig, Germany. Its title is “Unzeitgemäße Zeitgenossen” which seems to translate to “Untimely Contemporaries” in English, a kind of German pun. The artist Bernd Göbel was apparently unhappy with the hypocrisy of the Communist East Germany and put his frustration into this piece of art. It is amazing that he was allowed to create it, much less display it in a prominent place near the Augustusplatz. According to Rick Steves (via “…insulting, exaggerated caricatures of hypocritical DDR figures. For example, the teacher clutches a mallet used to pound communist ideology into her students; the third guy over, with the too-big laurel wreath covering his eyes, is detonating St. Paul’s Church.”

Eisspezialitäten–Spaghetti Ice Cream!

sanremoeiscafe1One of our stops in our 2014 LutherTour trip to Leipzig was a light lunch at the San Remo Eiscafe. Located across from St. Nikolai-kirche, the treats they served were an unexpected delight! I indulged in Spagetti Eis–vanilla, chocolate and raspberry (a custard based ice cream with amazing flavor & texture) run through a spaghetti press, then drizzled with syrup and compote, finally finished with dark & white chocolate sprinkles…YUMMY!!! Another favorite was the dessert waffle, with fresh strawberries and ice cream. If you like ice cream, Germany is the place to visit.


Harvest Angel

Harvest Angel

Harvest Angel

This was the detail on the archway of a building in the old city of Leipzig, Germany. Leipzig was founded in medieval times; it became an important trade city during the Holy Roman Empire because it was at the intersection of the Via Imperii and Via Regia, two important trades routes. This city was damaged by bombing during WWII, but not as heavily as nearby Dresden.

Leipzig was one of the cities that we visited on our 2014 LutherTour.