Manhole masterpieces

Bratislava has seen its share of war and conflict; this manhole cover dates back just 20 years, after it became the capital of the newly formed Slovak Republic.

This 86-year-old Tubingen, Germany, manhole cover incorporates vents into its geometric design.

Hsinchu, Taiwan, was first founded in the 17th century but did not attain official city designation until just 84 years ago.

Israel is a country where many languages are spoken; the linguistic diversity can add to the wordiness of street signs and manhole covers alike.

Japan’s manhole covers are among some of the loveliest. Many of the covers are painted, then repainted when wear and tear from traffic does its work, by city officials or civilians.

In older cities, manhole covers frequently feature ornate designs. Some (like this Madrid piece) even tell stories or show lively scenes of city life.

Most manhole covers aren’t very whimsical—not so with this cover in Nishimera Village, Miyazaki, Japan.

Cities in the U.K. each have their own manhole designs. Frequently, the diversity stretches into neighborhoods, like this unique cover in London’s Notting Hill area.

This Tampere, Finland, manhole cover gives a nod to two of its core industries: construction and medicine.

Viborg is one of Denmark’s oldest cities, dating back to the 8th century. Although its manhole covers are a few centuries younger, they hearken back to its history.

Manhole covers in German cities sometimes bear city seals or coats of arms. Others feature simple, yet striking, designs.

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