Thursday, July 11, 2013

Manneken Pis, Brussels

One of the iconic landmarks in Brussels is a small boy peeing in a fountain. You may think that I am making this up, but I refer to none other than Manneken Pis, a two-foot statue just down the street from the Grand Place.

Manneken Pis in the fountain

Close up of the boy in action

The origin of the statue is clouded in history. The current statue is a copy of one that dates from 1619. Evidence exists of a prior statue, possibly dating back as far as 1451. Theories about the inspiration range from Cupid to a 12th century duke's son who was caught peeing on a tree in the middle of a battle. The current statue is a replica because the 1619 statue has been stolen several times. In 1965 it was broken by the thieves, necessitating a replica.

In 1698, Netherlands governor Maximilian Emmanuel brought a woolen coat for the boy. The tradition caught on and now whenever heads of state come to visit, they bring an outfit (usually something traditional from their country) for the statue. The Musee de la Ville de Buxelles as a collection of over 800, of which only 100 are on display at any time. Here are some samples:

Blind with seeing-eye dog


Hockey players aren't this rude, are they?

National outfit (forgot to write down from where)

Beekeeper, firefighter, astronaut pis

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