An Inaccurate Guide to European Manhole Cover Art: Bergen

Today’s manhole comes from Bergen, Norway. If you live in the United States you probably just mouthed the words, “Where?” Well, Bergen is either the second or third largest city in Norway. (I was about to do some research to find out which it was, but since I live in the USA where we only keep track of who is number one, I decided to leave it up to the rest of the world to figure that out.)

Other pseudo-facts about Bergen: It rains two thousand days a year, it is on the Western Coast of Norway, tipping in Bergen is difficult if you don’t remember the exchange rate. (Sorry about that waitress at the pizza place. I thought it was a good tip at the time.)

Okay, enough education for today, let’s look at the manhole.



No, this is not photoshopped. I know you don’t believe me because Bergen has never had a sunny day since the dinosaurs all died, but let me reassure you,  I have not done anything to alter this photo.

On the right and left side of the manhole are dual images of two suns that have rain drops falling from them. Either that or Bergen was founded by really big Daddy Long Legged Spiders. I know fans of the movie Chariots of the Gods will probably think that these images are evidence of space aliens, but if space aliens were going to establish a colony here on Earth they would go some place with sunshine.

In the center of the manhole is an image of Bryggen  (which is some kind of historic area of Bergen). The three-pointed  rooftops of Bryggen (four if you count the one hiding behind the sails of the boat) are as poorly constructed on the manhole as they are in real life. The building codes in Bryggen allowed houses to be built right on top of each other. This was done so that when one building caught fire all of them would burn to the ground. These fires were the only way for people to get dry and warm. (They certainly were not going to get dry inside these poorly constructed buildings.)

Just behind the images of the buildings of Bryggen are the local castle and Haakon’s Hall. The castle is the one that is already bothering you if you have OCD. How hard is it to line up windows? Apparently very difficult in the wind and rain of Bergen. I can only assume the reason the windows are not lined up was because no one would ever look at the building from the outside since it is always raining and they would have an umbrella blocking their vision. This mismatched widows probably wouldn’t bother you if you were looking out into the daily downpour. Haakon’s Hall is the other building. (Is it possible I have these two buildings mixed up? Yes, get over it.) The hall is where everyone would go when Bryggen burned to the ground every six months. It is a big hall. I can’t imagine how bad it smelled in there with all those Vikings with their wet furs and dried fish. It probably smelled like a dog who rolled around in wet fish guts.

The rest of the image behind Haakon’s Hall is one of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen. There is a funicular that goes up to a view point where you can see the rain clouds at more of an eye-level. It also looks like there is a gondola lift from there to a Chinese Pagoda. Why is there a Chinese Pagoda on top of a mountain in Norway? Maybe Bergen has a sister city in China, or maybe it is the spaceship the aliens left behind. The background of clouds and sun/moon were put there just to fill space, no one in Bergen has ever seen fluffy white clouds or the sun. The manhole cover would look pretty blank with one big grey cloud in the background and I’m glad the artist fictionalized the image to give it a happier appearance. Anyone who lives in Bergen probably needs images like this to keep them from jumping off the Chinese pagoda.

The final image is a large sailing ship. It has ten little sails instead of four big ones because Norwegians believe in the the saying, “It isn’t the size of the sail that is important, it is how they use the wind.” It is also very cold in Norway and sails have a tendency to shrink when they get cold and wet. It appears that this ship is sailing in the harbor, but if you look closely you will notice that the water has probably filled the streets and the boat is taking a ride down the main drag.

Good job, Bergen! Nice manhole cover!


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