A weekend in…

MAN­NEKEN PIS: TO GO OR NOT TO GO?

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

- Paris · Copenhagen

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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