Thursday, October 25, 2012

Icons of Brussels (& part 2): Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis means literally little peeing man in Dutch (or in a dutch dialect, to be more precise). It is a bit weird to think of a statue of a tiny boy peeing as the symbol of a city or even of a whole country but at the same time, such an icon really suits the irreverent and relaxed attitude that many Belgian people have and that allows the country to keep on going even without government for more than a year!

The first Manneken Pis statue was made in the 17th century and the current one is a replica from 1965, as the statue of the tiny boy has been stolen several times. There are many stories trying to explain the origin of this bizarre icon, the most popular goes back to the Middle Ages and says that the statue commemorates a little boy who helped supressing a fire just by peeing and hence saving Brussels from being eaten up by the fire. Nowadays, the statue is probably one of the most visited and popular sites of Brussels. There's a non-profit association who takes care of the small boy in cold days providing him with thousands of costumes inspired in all sort of traditions, celebrations or jobs. They schedule the themed appearance of the Manneken Pis and that's another attraction itself: checking the schedule to see if you can catch him in an original costume during your visit to Brussels. Manneken Pis also has a peeing sister in Brussels, known as Jeanneke Pis. I still haven't found her (I haven't bothered that much, anyways). The first time I saw the Manneken Pis I was a bit deceived by his small size. After having seen so many close up photos and having heard so much of it, I was expecting a bigger and more impressive statue. Back then, the area was also a bit let down, with many a tacky souvenir shop after one another. The last time I visited him 3 or 4 weeks ago I was surprised that the area seemed to be getting better with all Belgian fine chocolate retailers opening stores just opposite the Manneken Pis: Leonidas, Godiva and Neuhaus all decided to come closer to Brussels' most famous sight. Oh, and the way to the Manneken Pis you also come accross another Belgian icon: Tintin, who's watching the city from a huge painting of him with captain Haddock on a façade. 

I think Manneken Pis and the Atomium are the most iconic sights of Brussels, what does not mean most beautiful or interesting. Probably, Brussels' most beautiful site is the Grande Place and chocolate, bier and comic heroes are for sure unofficial icons of the city. So, maybe I'll keep on getting blogging inspiration from Brussels in the future. But right now I'm just packing to take a train to Brussels and spend a cold weekend in Belgium, as temperatures are expected to drop to 0ºC this weekend. Anyways, it doesn't matter. Tomorrow I'm turning 28 and on Saturday I'm going to Antwerp to celebrate, so hopefully I'll have many nice pictures to post here next week.

Have a wonderful weekend you too!!!


  1. Love your post!
    Want to see more photo's! :)
    You see so many things, I want to see it too!

    1. Thanks! And still, there are so many other things I'd love to see :)

  2. Sounds fun;)

  3. Isn't it amazing the things we SEE in pictures look differently in real life? HAHAHAHA So glad you got to see this in person and I would've thought the same. It's so beautiful :)

    1. Yes!!! It is actually interesting to how things can differ from a picture in real life, that's probably another good reason to travel :)


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