The Manneken Pis can be considered, together with the Grand Place, as one of the main symbols of Brussels. Indeed, you can find a replica of this little black statue in every souvenir shop in the city. In this article we will tell you what’s behind this funny statue and what else you can visit in its vicinity.
The Manneken Pis: A kid dressed in many costumes
The Manneken Pis (Little Man Pee) is a 61cm (2ft) bronze statue located in the junction between Rue de l'Etuve and Rue du Chene at a 2 minute walk from the Grand Place. As you can see in the picture, the statue depicts a naked kid urinating into a small pool. This little bronze statue was designed by sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy the Elder in 1619 and soon became one of the main symbols of Brussels. In 1698, the governor of the Netherlands brought to Brussels a gift consisting of a blue woolen coat for the little statue. From that time, it started a tradition that still lives on today. Indeed, visiting heads of states donate miniature traditional costumes to the Manneken Pis. Nowadays, there are more than 800 costumes kept in Musee de la Ville. You can admire about 100 of them in a collection showed in the museum. Moreover, if you are lucky enough you can even see the Manneken Pis wearing one of its costumes from its spot in the fountain. In fact, there is a precise schedule that you can read at a side of the fountain in which you will find information about which costume and when the Manneken Pis will wear it. The most funny and unbelievable costumes include: a Samurai costume, a Santa Claus costume, an Elvis suit, an organ builder custom, a Judo attire and many others.
Discover the many legends behind the Manneken Pis
The real meaning of this statue and where the idea of creating it came from remain unknown, and that’s the reason why there are so many fables and legends about it. One of the most accredited legend states that during the 12th century, the son of a duke urinated against a tree in the middle of a battle and for this reason he was commemorated in a bronze statue. There are many versions of this story, another states that this duke was Godfrey III of Leuven and that he was only a two-year-old baby when his troops battled against the troops of the Lord of Grimbergen. According to the legend, the baby-lord was brought to the battlefield to encourage his men and from a basket hung on a tree he urinated on the heads of his troops, bringing them good luck. It is also said that the statue is inspired by the Greek god Cupid, son of Venus. The Manneken Pis has been stolen many times, with the worst case taking place in 1965, when the statue was found broken in a canal a year later.
Discover an astonishing Baroque church
Located in Rue de Marche au Charbon 91 at a 2 minute walk from the Manneken Pis (about 180m or 590 ft), you will find a beautiful hidden Baroque church. From the Manneken Pis, follow Rue des Grands Carmes and you will easily find this architectural gem. The first record of the church was around the 12th century, when it consisted of a main chapel devoted to Saint James the Great. In 1625, a devotee found a statue of the Virgin Mary that was believed to perform miracles and then he gifted it to this church. From that time the church was named Notre Dame de Bon Secours. Between 1664 and 1694, the church was renewed in a Baroque style with a round nave. This little rounded church will astonish you for the richness of its Baroque features and the beauty of its altar. If you are lucky enough, you can also find an organist playing some religious piece by Bach, giving to the church and your visiting experience a special meaning.
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Enjoy Brussels city center, a place of art and history
Enjoy Brussels Lower Town and all its alleys and monuments. Discover its many legends and learn more about its history. Have a nice tour visiting the Manneken Pis and a beautiful Baroque church nearby, everything at just a 2 minute walk from the Grand Place.
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