Finding Beauty Under Foot in Prague and Beyond

A Czech photographer has been showcasing the country’s decorative manhole covers for twenty years

Many admire the city of Prague for its skyline of peaks and spires, not what’s “under foot.” But Štěpán Rambousek, founder of the Facebook page Pod nohama, has a passion for looking down.

Rambousek, with help from a growing legion of fans, has spent over a decade photographing manhole covers, which he considers unrecognized works of art, at home and abroad.

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Prague, unknown
Prague, unknown

In an interview originally published on iDnes, Rambousek says that he now receives photos of interesting covers from hundreds of fans.

His page features decorative covers from Sarajevo to Japan. But it all started twenty years ago in České Budějovice, Rambousek told the publication.

Prague hlavní nádraží
Prague hlavní nádraží

“When I first noticed the hatch on the square in České Budějovice I remember how surprised I was. Until then, I had not seen an adorned cover in Bohemia. While decorated hatches at that time appeared in a number of cities, I just did not know about it yet.”

Prague, unknown
Prague, unknown

In terms of what pops out at him on his walks throughout Prague, the Czech Republic, and beyond in search of decorated manhole covers, Rambousek says:

“I am most interested in artistic pieces that have some relationship to the site. It’s gratifying when the city decided to invest and prepare the covers with its own design, or with the municipal emblem.”

Tábor, Czech Republic
Tábor, Czech Republic

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Indeed many of the covers that Rambousek snaps qualify as artistic, scenes of gilded castles or geometric prints embedded into the surrounding cobblestones.

Others, like a user-submitted manhole cover in Kladno bearing the communist insignia, reflect the country’s at times turbulent historical legacy.

Prague, Valdštejnská zahrada
Prague, Valdštejnská zahrada

Ramoubsek also organizes regular rambles throughout Prague, giving groups of fellow enthusiasts the chance to meet up with cameras and a desire to uncover underfoot treasure. The most recent one was held this past spring.

Komárom, Hungary
Komárom, Hungary

These are just a handful of the more interesting covers captured by Rambousek or posted to his site. Follow Pod nohama on Facebook to explore decorative covers from around the world including stunners from Ukraine, Germany, the Netherlands, and more.

Kladno, Czech Republic
Kladno, Czech Republic

All images courtesy of Pod nohama Facebook page.


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