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Manneken Pis (Brussels, Belgium)

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2 Reviews

Rue de l´etuve / Brussels

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    2 Reviews
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      06.01.2012 12:30
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      See it but don't love it

      Manneken Pis has got to be one of the most random tourist attractions I have ever seen in any city. It is Brussels' prized attraction and so it was I found myself huddled in front of it last week, amongst hundreds of other tourists, wondering what the fuss is all about. The best way to get to the statue is by walking down the street to the right of the town hall (on Grand Place) as you look at it and then follow the signs. It is about a five minute walk from the main square.

      The statue is of a little boy peeing. That is it. It is surrounded by an ornate frame and a fence and some flowers and things, but ultimately it is a one and a half foot high metal statue of a naked little boy having a wee. Odd, but I already told you that! There are a couple of legends that explain the statue and its popularity. One says that the boy peed on a fuse to put out a bomb that was going to eradicate the city of Brussels. Another says that he was put in a basket in a tree to attract enemy soldiers during a battle and when they he approached, he peed on them. Another one tells that the boy was the son of a wealthy merchant who got lots in the city and was eventually found happily peeing in a garden somewhere. As a thank you to the people who helped him search for his lost son, the merchant had the statue built. I like the second one best but the third one is the one that is most peddled to tourists in the form of postcards and tea towels and the like. I suppose if you were going to believe one, the third is the most believable as well.

      The statue itself was created in the early 1600s although it has suffered theft and vandalism a plenty over the years, hence the gate surrounding it. This is also why the statue on display at the corner of Rue des Grandes Carmes and Rue de l'Etuve, is a replica. The original is displayed in a museum on the Grand Place. Interestingly when it was stolen early on its life, the thief was sentenced to twenty years hard labour. On the other hand, the student who stole it in the eighties was given a E200 fine! How times have changed.

      Also as a sign of the times, the statue is regularly dressed up. It looks extremely tacky but I guess pays for its keep as businesses are able to sponsor particular outfits. The first time we saw it, the little boy was wearing a green and white tracksuit and looked awful. Thankfully it is only dressed on certain days and only for a few hours. There is a timetable on the gate in front of the statue that has the dates, times and costumes that will be next displayed - it's worth having a look so you can avoid the tackiness.

      There is another statue that has been erected as a feminist response to Manneken Pis, called Janekke Pis. This is another very small and strange statue, located on a side street of Rue de Bouche. The guide book says that it is sign posted from the popular restaurant lined street, but if there was a sign, we didn't find it. This time the statue is of a little girl squatting to have a wee. This one is equally ridiculous. Despite only being created in the late eighties, this statue also apparently has a legend, but it is a much more wishy washy one that I can't quite remember.

      There is a nice walk you can take between the two statues that covers the old city and some nice buildings along the way. It is probably worth doing a walk like this to encompass the two statues as neither of them are much on their own and at least you can orientate yourself with the city a bit. You have to go and see both the statues, just to see how odd they both are. Be prepared to be both amused and underwhelmed!

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      • More +
        23.12.2007 19:59
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        wee statue in the centre of Brussels

        Belgium isn't really famous for much. Well, it's got Jean Claude van Damme, Hercule Poirot and Tin Tin, the European Parliament, a large variety of beer and chocolates but that's about it. Then there's its capital city, Brussels, famous for even less - apart from the ill named Brussel sprouts (that have nothing to do with Brussels, just an unfortunate sharing of names). However, even the most uninitiated will know at least a couple of things about Brussels. They have the Atomium, Grand Place (which is really not that grand) and the famous Manneken Pis.

        The latter is the subject of this review. And, due to the nature of the review, I will be using a splattering of the word wee throughout the review. This subject just begs for its use.

        Manneken Pis (translated as little man wee) is famous well beyond the boundaries of both Brussels and Belgium. The statue in question is that of a wee small boy urinating into a basin. It's one of Belgium's best known landmarks.

        There is no one explanation how this little boy and its statue came into existence, history still tells a number of different tales. A lot of them have to do with war and how a little boy weed onto opposing troops and them losing the war. Other stories tell of a boy urinating on a burning fuse and thus stopping a large bomb go off, saving the city from destruction.

        Whatever the history, there's a wee little statue in Brussels on the corner of l'Etuve & Rue du Chêne, just a little walk from Grand Place attracts a lot of tourists all throughout the year.

        Considering its reputation, you would expect a statue of a life size boy piddling into a basin. My friend Michael and I went to Brussels the other week and went to look for this statue. We found it alright. When we arrived at the corner of the two streets all we could do was look at each other and wonder what all the fuss was about. The bronze statue is tiny. It's even smaller than I had imagined - and I knew it wasn't big. And I was totally disappointed that the wee guy was not naked as I had expected. He was dressed in a little outfit I didn't care finding out about. I took a couple of pictures but we didn't stay long. After all, there really isn't much to see apart from a dressed up little small statue of a boy weeing into a basin. And yes, it really that THAT small.

        I'm sure most of the souvenir shops around the statue have larger (and ultimately tackier) versions of Manneken Pis on sale. It's not really worth the visit. But you have to do it while you are in Brussels, it's one of the things on everyone's 'to do' list.

        I wasn't even tempted to buy the Mannekin Pis in chocolate in one of the ever present chocolate shops and devour it at my pleasure. I was just totally underwhelmed by the experience.

        By all means, go and visit the fountain, it's a must do thing when in Brussels. After all, there isn't really that much to do and it will kill a little bit of time while you are there, trying to figure out why on earth you decided to spend the day in Belgium's (and Europe's) capital city.

        I doubt good weather and sunny skies will make up for the small statue that caused such a major disappointment.

        By all means, go and visit the wee guy, but don't expect much and you won't be disappointed.

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      • Product Details

        This tiny statue of a boy taking a leak is one of Brussels most famous Landmarks, and one of the most disappointing. The Manneken Pis has numerous legends and a collection of more than 500 costumes which are on display in the Musee de Ville de Bruxelles. in 1985 the Manneken Pis got a female counterpart known as Janneken Pis which is located nearby. This squatting and slightly vulgar statue has failed to inspire civic pride in the same manner as the Manneken Pis. Manneken Pis: corner of rue de l'Etuve & rue du Chêne / 1000 Brussels. Metro: Bourse or Gare Central. Janneken Pis: inpasse de la Fidelite / 1000 Brussels. Metro: Bourse or De Brouckère.