So here he is, the Manneken Pis (“Little Man Pee”), the symbol of Brussels.
Like most Brusseleans, I am rather fond of Manneken and always pay him a visit when passing through the city. Most of the time he is naked but sometimes he is dressed up in tailor-made costumes to mark a particular national and/or religious occasion. On 1st December 2014 (as my wobbly YouTube video below shows), I found the little fellow dressed up in a woolly condom …
If you think Manneken leaves little to the imagination, then meet his lesser known younger sister Jeanneke:
In complete contrast to her regal brother standing proudly in the open on the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue des Grands Carmes, Jeanneke is hidden away (as though out of embarrassment) down a darkened alley behind the restaurants of the famous Rue des Bouchers.
Not only is she obscured by these gates, but the fountain itself is perched fairly high above the pavement. Not being terribly tall myself, I had to scale the gates and resort to a near back-breaking contortion act just to get a closer look.
Brussels’ infatuation with urination however does not stop there. In 1998 the Pis family acquired a pet:
Brussels is so proud of the Pises that it honours the head of the family in some of the city’s vast collection of comic strip murals …
Manneken clearly does seem to be a great and endless source of humour for the tourists and residents of Brussels.
All three rather endearing landmarks are within walking distance of each other in the heart of the city and are worth an hour of one’s time to visit them. Manneken and Jeanneke are a short walk from the Grand Place, and Zinneke is just west of Place St Géry.
Manneken and Zinneke are easy to find, but as mentioned above Jeanneke is not. The easiest way to find her is to start from the Grand Place: with the Hôtel de Ville behind you take one of the side roads on either side of the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles in front of you, which will bring you out onto Marché Aux Herbes. Turn left into it and after a few hundred metres, turn right into Rue de la Fourche. This will eventually bring you to the junction of Rue Grétry and the famous Rue des Bouchers. Turn right into the latter, and take the first alleyway – the Impasse de la Fidélité – on the left, working your way around the plethora of restaurant chairs and tables blocking the entrance to it. It is a dead-end, and little Jeanneke is just before you get to the bottom of it, on the right.
Useful links The siblings have their own official websites.
Manneken’s site here is predominantly in French, but features lots of photos of the boy dressed in various costumes and fancy dress.
Click here for Jeanneke’s (badly translated) site to find out more about why she came into being in the 1980s.
Zinneke is yet (2014) to go online.
Being drawn to the city’s Comic Strip Walk ….
… and living in sci-fi heaven at the space age Atomium
Celebrating Christmas in Brussels with ‘Game of Thrones’ style nativities, rubbish carousels and the Funny Christmas Ice Monster?