The goal of this paper is to describe all closed, aspherical Riemannian manifolds M whose universal covers M have a nontrivial amount of symmetry. By this we mean that Isom(M ) is not discrete. By the well-known theorem of Myers-Steenrod [MS], this condition is equivalent to [Isom(M ) : π1 (M )] = ∞. Also note that if any cover of M has a nondiscrete isometry group, then so does its universal cover M . Our description of such M is given in Theorem below. The proof of this theorem uses methods from Lie theory, harmonic maps,.