The Manneken Pis is a bronze sculpture standing at 61 cm, depicting a nude boy peeing into a fountain’s basin. Manneken-Pis was initially a fountain that played an essential role in supplying drinking water. The sculpture is well known all over Europe.
The importance of the Manneken Pis can be illustrated when, in 1747, French grenadiers stole the statue. When the Belgians heard of it, they threatened to riot and Louis punished the grenadiers and ordered them to return the Manneken clothed in an expensive brocade, embedded with gold, and adorned with Saint-Louis’ cross.
This was not the only time the Manneken Pis was stolen and recovered. It has been stolen, destroyed, and remade several times in the course of history. The statue made it through the 1695 bombardments and remained unscathed during the world wars, though a good chunk of Brussels was leveled.
Many legends surround the statue. One legend tells the tale of a father sought assistance from the Belgians after he had lost his son. In exchange for their help, he gave the statue as a gift. Another legend tells the tale of a boy who acted as a spy while the city was besieged. He literally peed on the explosives meant to bomb the city! Many stories like this gave the Manneken Pis a place in the heart of the people, and an important place in the city’s history.
Celebrations with the Manneken Pis
The people of Brussels celebrate the statue’s storied past. Occasionally, they clothe the statute depending on the occasion and time of the year. The boy’s apparel range from Santa suits to police uniforms. When Brass-bands play, the Manneken Pis would be connected to various flavors of beer, and he’s spout it out. The beer would then be handed to the general public.
A different statue was constructed in the 80s, Jeanneke Pis, to give the boy a playmate. She is not as popular and is placed in an alley a quick distance off.
Every gift given to the Mannekin must be sent to the Board of the Mayor and the Aldermen. A committee of the representatives of Brussels and the Order of Manneken-Pis then analyzes if the gift is appropriate.
New costumes must not have any advertising, commercial, political or religious markings. Following the Board’s agreement, a formal ceremony of delivery is coordinated by creating beer or other drinks, and Manneken-Pis thanks the folks. The suit joins the wardrobe in the Museum of Brussels.
Address: 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Website: Manneken Pis