One of the most iconic symbols of Brussels is not a majestic bridge or a tower or a cathedral, but a tiny statue of a little boy happily pissing in public. If you have ever been to the Belgian capital, chances are you’ve seen Manneken Pis - the bronze statue of a boy peeing into the fountain’s basin. Manneken Pis is the city’s most famous attraction and visited by hundreds of tourists every single day. But not many of them are aware that the little boy is not alone - he has a family, consisting of a sister and a dog, and they all seem to suffer from the same problem of relieving themselves in public.
The famous statue is located at the junction of two streets, close to Grand Place. The statue is just two feet tall and was placed there in 1619 by the sculptor Hieronimus Duquesnoy. Some say the statue represents a young boy who urinated on a burning fuse and thus managed to save the city from destruction. Another story revolves around a wealthy merchant who lost his young son and eventually found him happily urinating in a small garden.
Part of the reason why people visit this little figure so frequently is its enormous wardrobe of costumes. The statue is dressed in tiny costume several times each week, according to a published schedule which is posted on the railings around the fountain. His wardrobe consists of several hundred different costumes, many of which may be viewed in a permanent exhibition inside the City Museum.
Manneken Pis dressed as (from left to right): Mozart, a pilot, Nelson Mandela and a Russian cosmonaut. Photo credit
Jeanneke Pis is Manneken Pis’ little sister, a half-metre-high statue of blue-grey limestone of a little girl with her hair in short pigtails, squatting over a fountain doing her business for the world to see. It’s a fairly recent addition to the city, erected in 1987, because of which Jeanneke Pis remains mostly unknown to travellers who do not live in Brussels. The sculpture is now behind iron bars to protect it from vandalism.
The third member of the Pis family is the dog, Zinneke Pis. The bronze sculpture can be found at the corner of Rue des Chartreaux and Rue de Vieux-Marche, lifting his leg and doing his business just like Manneken and Jeanneke. Unlike the other members of his family though Zinneke isn’t a working fountain. It was erected in 1998.
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