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Manneken Pis, the Most Famous Boy in Brussels
During the 15th century, fountains played an important role to distribute drinking water in Brussels. The earliest mention on Manneken Pis was also found during this time, where he stood on a column and poured water into a double basin made of stone. The statue was then replaced with one made from bronze in 1619 and put on the corner of Rue de l'Etuve and Rue des Grands Carmes. Replacement was also done on the basin and the column supporting the statue. Both were completely remodeled by Daniel Raessens. The fountain was then moved in 1697 to a recess at the corner of the Rue du Chene and de l'Etuve until now. In 1770, the basin and the column were changed again. The last change on the basin was done in the 19th century. After drinking water distributed to houses, all fountains in Brussels including this one were protected by railings to prevent water access and to relegate the fountain as a decorative and symbolic role of the city.
The Manneken Pis was once known as 'an object of glory appreciated by all and renowned throughout the world' after it left unharmed during the bombardment by French army in 1695. The event was also when the statue served as a symbol for people of Brussels for the first time. However, because of its fame, the statue has been the object of theft or attempted theft for many times. The first attempt was done in 1747 by a group of French grenadiers. The statue was successfully stolen by Antoine Licas and was broken into 11 pieces. The statue was then restored by a specialized welder and used to make a mold. The last theft was in 1966. In that time, the body was missing, and only the feet and ankles were left. The body was then found in the Charleroi Canal. After restored, it was kept and displayed on the second floor of the Museum of the City of Brussels until now.
If you are visiting the Manneken Pis, then try to ask people about the origin of the statue and you will find many legends related to the boy. One of the most popular story stated that Julien, the boy, was a savior by peeing on the gunpowder hid by the enemy of Brussels. The statue was then made as a gratitude to the boy. Another story said that a boy was missing during festivities in the city. The parents who were searching for days then found him peeing on the corner of the street. As the parents of the boy were of wealthy family, the dad decided to put a statue of his son on the corner where he found his missing son. Other stories mentioned the boy as young Duke Godfrey III of Leuven. One story also said that the peeing boy is related to the tradition in peeing leather to make it suppler. However, many believed that the statue were just an embodiment of their sense of humor and their independence of mind.
Another thing that makes Manneken Pis is its costumes. The first clothes was given by Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria and the governor of the Austrian Netherlands. Then, the statue was dressed for several times each week. Now, the costumes are managed by non-profit association called 'The Friends of Manneken - Pis'. People can also give costume to the statue by submitting a request to the association. Until now, the Manneken Pis has more than 900 costumes that are stored in the Museum of the City of Brussels.
The famous Manneken Pis is now not alone. Brussels has two other statues with peeing pose. One is the Jeanneke Pis, a statue of a peeing girl that was placed in 1987 on a dead end street, near the Rue des Bouchers. Then, in 1998, a statue of a peeing dog joins the family. The statue, named Zinneke Pis, can be found on the sidewalk of the Rue de Chartreux.
How to Get Tickets?
There is no ticket needed for you to enjoy the Manneken Pis or his family statue. However, you will need one if you want to see the collection of the costumes in the Grand Place.
How To Get Around?
To get around Brussels, you have several choices of public transport. There are metro, tram, bus, and train. To help you going from one place to another, you can use this app to help you.
What Should I Wear?
There is no recommended dress code for visiting the Manneken Pis. However, remember to dress accordingly to the weather and wear a comfortable clothes if you want to walk around.
Best Time to Visit
Best time to visit the Manneken Pis is during a special event because you will be able to see it in costume. During August, it can be very crowded because it is the high season.
Will I Need a Guide?
You don't need a guide to see the Manneken Pis.
How To Get There?
There are several choices to go to the Manneken Pis with public transport. If you are using a bus, then ride bus number 46 or 86. You can also go by train from popular stations in Brussels.