A weekend in…


There are two sorts of tourists: those who consider a stroll past Manneken Pis the highlight of their trip, and those who want to avoid the little peeing boy at all cost. Which type are you? We list the pros and cons of Brussels’ bronze icon so that you c


What we like about Manneken Pis

Like Paris’ Mona Lisa and Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid, Manneken Pis (Dutch for ‘little peeing boy’) is infamous for its humble size. No matter how much you prepare yourself for it, you will likely be shocked by how small the statue is. This fact alone makes hanging around by the iconic corner to look at all the surprised faces amusing indeed. Furthermor­e, Manneken Pis has a great story – or, stories! One heroic tale states that Brussels was about to be blown up by its enemy but that a little boy managed to pee on the fuse and prevent the catastroph­e. More likely, however, the statue was a salute to the city’s tanners, who used the urine of small children to make their leather soft. But the funniest thing about Manneken Pis is that he is dressed up for every special occasion. Whether it’s the national holiday of a faraway country or a local folklore festival, Manneken Pis always wears a fitting ensemble. His outfit schedule can be found at the gate in front of the statue. In total, Manneken Pis has more than 1,000 outfits, 133 of which you can discover at GardeRobe MannekenPi­s, a museum just around the corner.

What we dislike about Manneken Pis

As fun as watching the disappoint­ed grins on the faces of tourists can be, the disappoint­ment of arriving at Manneken Pis yourself is sobering to say the least. With its 58 centimetre­s, there is not much to look at; you might have seen enough of it after just a few seconds. Another disadvanta­ge of the spot is that it is often packed with tourists. Brussels usually isn’t a very touristy city, but at the corner of Manneken Pis, there are always picture-taking visitors aplenty. This fact is even more surprising, and indeed sobering, if you know that it isn’t even the real Manneken Pis you are staring it. Over the years, the statue has been stolen many times, sometimes by students just for a few hours, and other times by burglars and political enemies. In 1965, it was decided that the original would be replaced by a replica, and the number of thefts has diminished ever since. To see the original statue, visit Maison du Roi (see page 30). Here, you can still spot the original little guy.

On the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue du Chêne (Bourse, trams 3, 4 and 32).

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