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The Manneken Pis Statue

The Manneken Pis, in Brussels, has inspired legends, touristic routes and even thefts!


When we think about Belgium, we think big: it has almost 300 stores that specialize in selling chocolates with fillings (pralines) and high quality truffles; it produces more than 450 varieties of beer, and it possesses a capital whose main square is known as the Grand Place (Grote Marktin Flemish) and serves as the historic and geographical heart of this destination. However, in order to discover how Brussels really is and to absorb its jolly spirit, we have to think small. More specifically, think about 50 centimeters of sculpted bronze. That’s because this is how much the curious Manneken Pis measures; a statue of a urinating little boy that has become a symbol of the city.


The Manneken Pis was the first representative fountain of the distribution of drinking water in the fifteenth century. Yet, it became famous during the seventeenth century after surviving the bombing of Brussels in 1695. Ever since, its popularity has increased to the point of havingtravelers from all around the world crowding in the small corner that harbors it in order to have their picture taken in front of the urinating boy.


It’s interesting to learn that there are several legends behind the statue’s origin. One of them says that in the fourteenth century Brussels was sieged by a foreign power that planned to set explosives near the city walls. However, a boy who was spying on them decided to urinate on the lit fuse saving Brussels with this action.

Another legend says that a rich merchant who once visited the city lost his son. Worried, he asked the locals to help him form a search group. After a while, they found the boy, minding his own business, urinating in a garden. As a way of thanking the people who had helped him, the merchant built a fountain in which he represented his son in the funny position in which he had been found.


In DINKtravelers we like to share fun facts with you, so you’ll enjoy learning that this statue has been the victim of several pranks by tourists and locals. For example, sometimes they have substituted the fountain’s water with beer or even sparkling wine. What’s more, in the 60s the Manneken Pis was stolen. In order to keep the citizens from finding out about the theft, the authorities immediately placed a replica in its place, which, in fact, is the statue you can visit nowadays. Even though the original was recovered, they decided to keep it in the City Museum together with the collection of nearly 800 suits that people have donated in order to dress the bronze boy for special occasions.

As you can see, this little fellow has inspired legends, touristic routes and even thefts, so you won’t want to miss the chance to visit him in your next trip to Brussels.