I still wonder from were came the idea of building a fountain with the water streaming out a pipi, zizi or as used in Brussels and Brabant dialect a "pisellewiet" or "tichke".
What we know is that according to documents from 15th c. there was at the same place already a stone statue called " Juliaenekensborre " or " ‘t Menneken Pist " supplying the residents with drinking water but no representation of this stone statue is left.
In 1619, the city authorities asked Jerome Duquesnoy Senior to make a bronze statue. This statue experienced a turbulent history. A copy attracts now the tourists (and deceives some because the statue is only 58 cm; others are deceived because they expected to be there when Manneken Pis is peeing beer).
Many legends exist to explain the peeing little boy fountain but I wonder if they were not created afterwards to explain this original fountain. I have seen hundred of fountains but none with somebody peeing like here.
The Manneken Pis of Brussels is not really alone, there is in the Flemish town of Geeraardsbergen (Grammont) a similar statue also called Manneken Pis that goes back to 1459. It is older than the bronze statue of Duquesnoy (1619) but the stone ‘t Menneken Pist of Brussels has the anteriority.
When you get to the corner which is home to this tiny little statue with the big reputation listen out for how many languages you hear "isn't it tiny!" said in!
The statue really is very small which is quite unexpected with all the hype about it. I don't actually see what the big deal about the statue is, but it's become such a well known cultural symbol of Brussels that it is now a must see when visiting the city.
You will know you are getting close as the density of tacky souvenir shops sells replicas of teh statue increases to a critical level!
The first bronze statue of the little boy was commissioned in 1619 by the city's officials but this may have been replacing an earlier stone version (but there is disagreement about this point it seems). The statue has been stolen on a number of occasions. In 1745, French soldiers took him and hid him in a warehouse. He was returned when Louis XV ordered a full scale search and then knighted the statue ( Sir Manneken Pis! ) in an attempt to avoid it being stolen again?
In 1817 it was stolen by an ex-convict for it's bronze content. The thief had smashed the statue up before being apprehended. He was publicly branded in the Grand Place and sentenced to a life of hard labour whilst the new (and current) statue was forged from the broken remnants of the old statue.
The statue gets dressed up in a variety of costumes for various events and you can see a number of these costumes on the top floor of the Brussels City Museum in the Grand Place.
This small bronze statue about 30 inches high is a little boy in the act of peeing in a fountain, is definitely one of the symbols of the city. Legend has it that the origin of this statue is inspired by the gesture of the son of a Duke in the twelfth century in the course of a bloody battle, was discovered pissing on a tree. Work by the artist Jerome Duquesnoy the Elder, was first exhibited in 1619. Its popularity grew significantly over the years and in 1698 the governor-Emanuele Massimiliano offered a dress to take the statue symbolically and from that day is a tradition that heads of state visit to the city offer thumbnails representing their costumes, all these models, more than 650, are conserved in the Musée de la Ville. We were fortunate to visit Brussels on July 21st day of the Belgian nation and was dressed in the national costume.
Esta pequeña estatua de bronce alta unos 30 centímetros representa un muchachito en el acto de mear en una fuente, representa sin duda uno de los símbolos de la ciudad. La leyenda cuenta que el origen de esta estatua está inspirada en el gesto del hijo de un Duque que en el siglo XII en el curso de una cruenta batalla, fue descubierto meando en un árbol. Obra del artista Jerome Duquesnoy el Viejo,fue expuesta por primera vez en el 1619. Su popularidad creció notablemente en los años, y en el 1698 el gobernador Massimiliano-Emanuele ofreció un vestido para revestir simbólicamente la estatua y desde aquel día es tradición que los jefes de Estado en visita a la ciudad ofrezcan miniaturas que representan sus trajes típicos; todas estas miniaturas, más de 650, están conservadas en el Musée de la Ville. Tuvimos la suerte de visitar Bruselas el día 21 de Julio día de la nación Belga y estaba vestido con el traje nacional.
The Mannekin Pis is Brussels' most famous statue; it is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the basin of the fountain. This little statue attracts thousands of visitors every year and yet is actually very small (when you can eventually find it). Whilst there are many sign posts around Brussels to help you into the general locale, once in the area, it's easily missed if the usual crowd of tourists is absent.
During the year you will often find the statue wearing costumes. When notable dignitaries visit Brussels, it is common practice for them to present a version of their national costume for the statue to wear on their national day.
I know some people categorize this as a tourist trap, but I see it differently.
I had not heard of Manneken Pis, so had no pre-concieved notions of what to expect. Like the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, the little guy is very small. Unlike the Little Mermaid, his wardrobe is huge, over six hundred outfits!
There are several legends about him that I have heard--mostly that he saved Brussels from destruction because he urinated on a bomb. What ever the truth is, the people of Brussels are proud of him and for that reason I'm happy that I was able to see the statue in action!
If nothing else, it was a great indication of the wonderful sense of humor the Belgians have.
The truth is that he was part of a water delivering system created in the early 1600's! Of course what we see is a replica. The original Manneken Pis is kept safe at the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles
Maison du Roi
Manneken Pis is the name of the statue of a little boy who is urinating - he supplies water to what was at one time a water supply for the city. He no longer has that function. He was 'dressed' in costumes four times a year, but we did not see that. Now he has many costumes and there is a schedule that you can consult so that you can time your visit to the costume schedule.
I can only find two black and white photos that my dad took of Manneken-Pis, but I know he was fascinated by the statue.
“I raised my eyes, and beheld each pupil perched on a barrel, in the same attitude and performing the same action, as the Manneken-Pis fountain of Brussels. The fountains were playing in honour of my arrival.”
— from “My Memoirs” Volume 1 by Alexandre Dumas, writing of his reception on his day teaching at Abbé Grégoire’
Like icons from other cities, Manneken-Pis has inspired many imitations. Here are but a few found near-by to the fountain, usually employed to sell something, from Belgian waffles to chocolates.
Many legends swirl about the Manneken-Pis. One of them tells the story of a little boy who had pissed against the front door of a witch’s house, which stood where the fountain now stands. The witch grew so angry that she cast a spell that turned the little boy into a two-foot tall bronze sculpture.
Another legend says that a man had lost his young son. After two days, the father found the boy near the corner where the Manneken-Pis fountain is. The little boys was peeing when the father spotted his child. Out of gratitude, the father commissioned the fountain showing a bronze boy peeing.
This little 12" bronze guy doing his thing has been one of the icons of Brussels. The story goes that as the king was passing by, a little boy decided to pee and, while everyone else was affronted by the boy’s audacity and rudeness, the king found it humorous. So the little fountain honors the little boy.
This is actually a replacement fountain since the first one was stolen and smashed in 1817. It wasn’t the first time it has been stolen (previously by the French and the British, but it was destroyed during this theft.
The little statue has many, many little outfits for special occasions and gifts to the city. Currently there are more than 815 outfits and they are on display at the Maison du Roi (the King’s House, which houses the Museum of the City of Brussels), which is located in the Grand Place directly across the plaza from the Town Hall.
On our first visit to see Mannekin Pis, there was a celebration of some sort and Mannekin Pis was dressed just like those who were meeting in front of him. A couple days later, we went back and he did not have any outfit on, and finally, a third time we passed and he was in some sort of uniform.
He is a very busy little guy – not only does he stand there night and day for tourists to look at and take photos of, but he is very much into marketing! You will find him in most of the shops selling waffles, chocolates, t-shirts, keychains, bottle openers, or just little images of himself that you can take home and display. Mannekin Pis is a landmark in Brussels.
Located at the corner of Rue de-l’Etuve and Rue du Chêne. If you face the Town Hall in the Grand Place and walk down the road to the LEFT of the building, you will find Mannekin Pis on the left. You’ll know you are close by the crowds. %s
“One of the curiosities of Brussels is the Mannikin Fountain, near the Hotel de Ville or City Hall. It has stood there since 1619, and all guide books note it. It is a great favorite with the lower classes, and its destruction would cause a revolution to which the French disturbance of 1789 was not a beginning. I can not describe it; but if you go to Brussels hunt it out and then exclaim as we did, ‘How ridiculous!’ ”
— Stephen Girard Nye, (1834-1906, California State Judge) on a 1901 trip through Europe with his family
POPULAR CURIOSITY Lower classes indeed! Judge Nye did not know that Russia’s Peter the Great paid court to Manneken-Pis, and, bowing before him, said, “Sir, I have come to see you, because you go to see no one.” Peter added to the pension that Emperor Charles V had settled upon him.
In the Middle Ages the Manneken-Pis was a decorative top to a fountain where locals collected fresh water. The current version dates to the 13th of August 1619 when the city commissioned sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy to design a new bronze Manneken-Pis. Over the centuries the two-foot tall pissing boy has been hidden to protect him from the bombs of invading armies. He has also been stolen several times by plundering soldiers.
Because of Mannikin-Pis’s popularity, we had to rise early for our crowd-free photo-op with the little man wearing his gay pride outfit (see photos #4 & #5). Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave him his first suit of clothes in 1698. Forty-nine years later Louis XV gave him a full uniform, and invested him with the Order of St. Louis.
A very small statue, almost missed it. Crowded, hardly possible to get a picture of you taken standing in front of it without any other tourists in it! But lovely and of course a must-see while you're in Bruxelles!
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