A hidden message has been found on a paved square in Steyr, Austria. Now, the creator of this steganogram has to cover the costs for removing it.

Earlier this week, I reported on hidden messages in tombstone inscriptions. Blog reader Robert Latzin from Austria has now made me aware of another object that bore a steganographic message: the pavement of a central place in Steyr, Austria. Of course, I would have liked to include this steganograpic sight in my Cryptologic Travel Guide, but apparently the message has been removed after it was discovered.

The story began, when the city administration of Steyr, Austria, decided to renew the pavement of a public area in the citiy center. This project was surveyed by a city servant named Franz-Michael Hingerl, who also is a member of the city council. As it seems, Hingerl is a friend of steganography (perhaps, he has read my book Versteckte Botschaften), and so he decided to hide a message in the new pavement. He instructed the road workers to encode seven letters with cobblestones: H, I, N, G, E, R, and L. As these characters were spread on a distance of 50 meters, it was not easy to see that they spelled out the surname of the city servant.

For copyright reasons, I can’t include a picture of the message here. However, there is one available in this article published by the Austrian newspaper Der Standard. This article contains a hidden message, too, by the way. Can a reader find it?

In my view, it was a great idea to hide a message in the pavement of a public area. I’m sure, many steganography enthusiasts would have visited this place to see the inscription. However, the Steyr city administration was of a different opinion. Steyr’s mayor Gerhard Hackl even stated: “It’s like the prank of a twelve-year old – completely stupid”. He immediately ordered the removal of the steganogram. As it seems, Franz-Michael Hingerl will have to cover the costs for this work.

I hope, the removal of the message won’t be too expensive. After all, Mr. Hingerl has written steganographic history. The city of Steyr should thank him for this.

Further reading: The London kerbstone code mystery

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Kommentare (10)

  1. #1 Spritkopf
    8. November 2018

    However, there is one available in this article published by the Austrian newspaper Der Standard.

    That was quite easy. However I have to confess that without your hint I wouldn’t have spotted it.

  2. #2 Jerry McCarthy
    England, Europa
    9. November 2018

    Indeed, quite easy 🙂 (and the comment by “c. pedersoli” is not irrelevant)

  3. #3 leo
    10. November 2018

    Typisch österreichisch ein sich entwickelndes Talent zu zerstören.

    Wenn er jetzt noch ein "Joseph Kyselak" werden will,
    muss er wie viele Österreicher vor ihm ins Ausland gehen
    und die Hauptplätze der Welt pflastern.

    Erst wenn er das geschafft hat wird er auch daheim gefeiert,
    und die Österreicher knien vor ihm nieder (siehe Schwarzenegger).

  4. #4 ulv
    14. November 2018

    Something similar happened in Hamburg when bricklayers from Poland put stones of slightly different color into the wall above the entrance of the “Hanse-Viertel”, a shopping mall in the city center.
    The inscription reads “Polen” (german for Poland) and is only readable at some weather conditions.
    The architect found it amusing …

  5. #5 TrueDan
    15. November 2018

    Klaus–You mig find this article about steganographic fingerprints to be of interest: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8510853ht

  6. #6 Hias
    17. November 2018

    Ich denke die Pflasterleger hatten eine himmlische Eingebung von Alois Hingerl, Dienstmann Nummer 172 😉

  7. #7 Breaker
    27. November 2018

    How dare he put his name into the street he helped build.

    Next time make sure to encrypt the random letters of all the laborers and the city council members into it so they will not be jealous.

  8. #8 Breaker
    27. November 2018

    The Kommentar of Gerhard Hackl sounded a bit more like Z Hekl to me…..


  9. #9 Breaker
    27. November 2018

    Send him an email


    He’s the Burgermeister of Steyr…..

  10. #10 Breaker
    27. November 2018

    Creatively speaking the letters inspire me to see the words “Linger Here”….a cool thing that is made of his name for a city street to have on it, attracting interests from a wide range of wandering and wondering people….if in the area and it was still a “mystery” I would want to go there to try to break the code.

    Also to note from their Tourism Website

    “The Kalkalpen National Park, only 30 minutes away from Steyr, is an Eldorado for nature lovers, hikers and mountain bikers. Forests, crystal clear streams, wild gorges, impressive mountain peaks with fantastic views and picturesque alpine pastures abound in this truly magnificent national park.”

    They qoute Poe’s “Gold Bug”?


    Or do they qoute his “Eldorado”

    Gaily bedight,
    A gallant knight,
    In sunshine and in shadow,
    Had journeyed long,
    Singing a song,
    In search of Eldorado.

    But he grew old—
    This knight so bold—
    And o’er his heart a shadow—
    Fell as he found
    No spot of ground
    That looked like Eldorado.

    And, as his strength
    Failed him at length,
    He met a pilgrim shadow—
    ‘Shadow,’ said he,
    ‘Where can it be—
    This land of Eldorado?’

    ‘Over the Mountains
    Of the Moon,
    Down the Valley of the Shadow,
    Ride, boldly ride,’
    The shade replied,—
    ‘If you seek for Eldorado!’

    So they use the term “Eldorado” but then when someone else uses something cryptic to inspire creativity they go bonkers.

    T is STILL an Eldorado