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A few weeks ago, my twin sister and I went on a trip to Brussels. As with most people, we looked up things to see and do in Brussels, and one of the things that came up was the Manneken Pis.
I could not wrap my head around seeing the tiny little statue of a peeing boy. Well, I hoped it would be as awe-inspiring as the Mona Lisa painting I had seen at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
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Here’s what I discovered about the Manneken Pis:
What is the story of Manneken Pis?
Manneken Pis which translates to “little man pee,” or “le petit Julien,” in French is one of the highlights of Brussels. According to legend, a little boy named Julien saved the city of Brussels from burning down by peeing on the fire. In appreciation, Brussels sculpted this 61cm (24 inches) bronze fountain statue of the “peeing boy” in Julien’s likeness.
Without knowing the story about the Manneken Pis, tourists might be left quite underwhelmed by the grandeur of the peeing boy.
Where is the peeing statue in Brussels?
The original version of the peeing statue is kept in the Museum of the City of Brussels (Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles) located on the Grand Place of Brussels.
The current sculpture seen and photographed here and by travelers is a replica from 1965, which is located at the corner of Rue du Chêne and Rue de l’Étuve. The walk up to the statue is through a nice pedestrian cobbled street.
Odeon and I stayed at this afforadable rental property which a short 4 minutes walk to the Peeing Boy and close to the Grand Place and the Town Hall, Brussels Stock Exchange, and within walking distance of Jeanneke Pis, Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Zinneke Pis.
Expert Tip: You can experience the main highlights of Brussels in one day (I recommend 2-3 days) by staying in a central location.
How many costumes does the Manneken Pis have?
After seeing the Manneken Pis, one of the thoughts that came to mind was if this statue had any clothes. I quickly discovered that the Manneken Pis has over 900 costumes (source).
That’s enough costumes to last almost three years of daily outfit changes. However, only 23 costumes are planned on fixed dates. It can be a fun surprise as you never know what outfit you’ll see on the Peeing Boy the next time you visit.
In fact, you might even find him in this African print suit! See Le Petit Julien wardrobe collection here.
How old is Manneken Pis?
The Peeing Boy is older than anyone alive. The original version was created in 1619 by Jerôme Duquesnoy, which makes the Manneken Pis 400 years old in 2019! He sure ages well! 😀
Odeon and I visited the Manneken Pis during the mid-afternoon of the first day we arrived in Brussels. It was impossible to get close enough for a great photo with the statue. Scroll right to what the madness looked like on my Instagram account compared to the shot we got the following morning.
Expert Tip: The best time to get a hassle-free, Instagram-perfect shot of the Manneken Pis is bright and early in the morning. We asked a passerby to help take our photo sometime around 6 AM. It gets bright early in the summer.
Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we couldn’t help but wonder if there was a female representation of this famous male statue. And sure enough, we learned about Jeanneke Pis!
According to the Visit Brussels website, Jeanneke Pis peeing fountain intended as a counterpoint to the Manneken Pis statue. This limestone statue of a urinating girl was erected in 1987 and measures half-meter-high (source).
Our impressions of Jeanneke Pis was a less exciting experience as she was caged up in a narrow cul-de-sac off of Rue Grétry. This is understandable since she’s within closer reach (and higher chances of stealing) than Le Petit Julien.
Sorry, this was the best image we could get. The darn metal cage kept getting in the way!
What food is Brussels famous for?
After strolling through the streets of Brussels, be sure to sit down and grab a bite of what Brussels has to offer. Regardless of whether you’re a bread, pancake, or crepe person, you absolutely have to try the waffles.
Other typical Belgian dishes to try include mussels, Fries, Flemish stew (wished I tried this!) and Shrimp Croquettes.
Avoid the waffle stores close to the Manneken Pis. The waffles were dry, hard, less savory, and cost more. Plus the store we ended up in had underwhelming sanitary conditions.
Handling cash and cutting carrots with the same unwashed hands and no gloves with flies perching on some of the waffles placed on racks with some racks a few inches from the bare floor without any covering. That waffle was hard to swallow!
Expert Tip: My recommendation, walk three minutes up the cobblestone street to Waffle Factory. Better service, better options, savory, made fresh, with room to sit down and enjoy your waffle while you rest your legs.
We are wearing:
A-Line Midi Dress (under $25) | Yellow minimalist purse (under $20) | Pearl embellished tote | Pearl wrap bracelet (read my review here) | Boho cuff bracelet | Mesh adjustable watch | Strappy sandals (similar) | Slingback heels (similar)
FAQ: Popular Questions About Brussels
The city of Brussels is most famous for the Manneken Pis, but there are many more things to see and do in Brussels than the Peeing Boy. Brussels has lush green spaces and is home to some phenomenal parks like the Bois de la Cambre and the Parc Du Cinquantenaire. The Belgian cuisine and its historical landmarks set Brussels apart.
Belgian beer, comic books, art pieces, delicious Belgian chocolates, cookies, and sweets, and even a life-size Manneken Pis make some of the best gifts and things to buy in Brussels.
The three official languages of Belgium are Dutch, French, and German. But many Belgians speak English. I was able to get by in Namur with English and intermediate level of French in Namur and Brussels.
Although Belgium is famous for Manneken Pis, others can be found in Colmar, France, and Osaka, Japan.
As expected, the Manneken Pis in Brussels ranks high on things to do and see in Brussels and rightfully so. Discover more things to do in Brussels here to make sure you get the most out of your time in Brussels even if you’re only visiting for one night.
The bronze statue now embodies the essence of the citizens of Brussels in a fun and entertaining way while sharing the deep history of the city. I hope you found this post helpful. Bon voyage!
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