Leading off from the Grand Place square, a little distance away past crowded streets in a corner is the statue called Manneken Pis. This is a bronze statue of a small naked boy peeing. It is a fountain, with water replacing the pee! This is the most famous statue of Belgium. However, tourists expect it to be big, but it is actually a very small statue placed in a corner of narrow streets. The Manneken-Pis is at the corner of the Rue de l’Etuve and the Rue du Chene. The Rue Charles Buls leading from the Square becomes the Rue de l’Etuve. The statue is dressed up in colorful costumes on different occasions according to a weekly schedule. The Manneken-Pis has several hundred costumes. The changing of costumes is accompanied by live music.
The exact legend behind this statue is unclear since there are several of them. One version is that the statue is of a two year old duke whose troops took him with them during their fight against the Berthouts. He is supposed to have urinated on the enemy troops. Another version suggests the story of a small boy who urinated on the fuse of explosives to prevent them from exploding. They were planted by enemies trying to destroy Brussels. Another version as we noted on the shop front just opposite the statue talks about the story of Manneken Pis, also known as Le Petit Julien:
“in 1619, I was 5 years old. I got lost in Brussels. After 2 days of frantic searching, my father, a nobleman, found me in an embarrassing position…peeing. As a token of gratitude, he ordered a fountain to be build, with a statue depicting me in that same position.” The picture of this poster is given on the right (click to enlarge).
The Manneken Pis has a female counterpart called the Jeanneke Pis. This is a modern piece of sculpture made of limestone, by Denis-Adrien Debouvrie, in 1985 and erected in 1987. This is located on the other of the Grand Place away from Manneken Pis. It is in the east side of Impasse de la Fidélité (Faith Alley) which is a narrow dead end street leading off from Rue des Bouchers (Butchers’ Street).
How to get to the Manneken Pis-
After reaching Grand place take the Rue Charles Buls which becomes the Rue de l’Etuve. The Statue is at the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue du Chene. The details of getting around Brussels is given here. In the picture below, the left hand street is Rue de l’Etuve and the street on the right is Rue du Chene.