Up Close And Personal With The Manneken Pis

“Tourist trap”, “over-hyped and over gawped at statue”, “not worth it – one of the top ten things to avoid”, all stuff I read about the Manneken Pis pre-trip. However we couldn’t go to Brussels and not seek him out. As it happens this little guy (along with waffles and chocolate) was one of Son’s Belgium highlights. In fact on our first evening in Brussels so keen was he to make his acquaintance with the Manneken Pis that the splendours of the Grand Place went over his head somewhat and he rushed us along to find the peeing boy.

08.01.36 - Brussels

The fountain is a bit hit with children (and adults), you can’t escape his image in Brussels and plenty of other places in Belgium. We knew we were heading in the right direction, the closer we got, the more peeing boys started to appear in shop windows advertising everything from chocolate to waffles to beer.

08.01.32 - Brussels

Quite easy to find, just a couple of blocks south of the Grand Place we got there on a Friday evening around 9.30 pm. Not too many people at all and we were able to get close. The cherub is pretty small and is perched on a little niche. He pees away night and day with a bit of a cheeky grin on his face. Legends abound but I like the one that says he peed to put out a burning fuse of a bomb which was going to blow up the Grand Place.

08.01.33 - Brussels

A tradition, dating back to the seventeenth century, is to present the Manneken Pis with clothes. Apparently he has all sorts of outfits – over seven hundred and some are displayed in the City Museum. Son was keen to go back and see him again next morning, we obliged. More crowded than in the evening but we had no issue getting close for pictures. A nice surprise – he was all dressed up in a natty suit – apparently they dress him up every Saturday. Son was more than thrilled to see this and more than thrilled to come away boasting he had seen the Manneken Pis with and without clothing.

08.02.06 - Manneken Pis

A quick trip to one of the (many) souvenir shops nearby, Son was super keen to acquire his own miniature Manneken Pis souvenir. A trip tradition for us, he always brings back something from each city/country we visit for his “treasures” shelf. How could I not have guessed a peeing boy would be his abiding symbol and memory of Brussels!

08.02.08 - Manneken Pis

56 thoughts on “Up Close And Personal With The Manneken Pis

  1. With a young son, of course you had to go see this! It makes me think of the Molly Malone statue in Dublin–a favorite with male tourists because her dress is cut so low!

  2. I remember going to Brussels and we also find our way to the Manneken Pis…it is a tourist trap but it is a fun one. It is always so much fun to watch people when you are visiting such places. (Suzanne)

  3. Funny, we were just talking about Manneken Pis. We saw him in Brussels several years ago with our adult sons on holiday when they were in college. We were reminded of him recently in Vancouver when we saw a fountain spouting water but from the mouth. I love the outfit!

  4. Definitely worth the trip and to see him dressed up and peeing, well that makes it all the more enjoyable. That’s pretty funny, actually.

  5. I love that your son gets to choose his own souvenirs… Our little people have a random (to us) collection of objects that are deeply meaningful to themselves! Each one is selected with great care. For me, that’s part of what makes travelling so inspiring – we each get something different out of it, and the talismans the children choose are often the most interesting. We return from our journeys transformed, and those little mementos inspire us to remember the moments as we resume our daily life…busily saving up until we can do it all over again!

    • We have quite the selection of things – like you said random to us but choosing them is all part of his holiday process!! The first thing he picked was a tiny Eiffel Tower from street vendor, it just grew from there – we even have stones from some places. So intriguing and like you say fun to look at them and reminisce.

  6. Oh brilliant, I love that they dress up the Manneken Pis! How funny is that? I think the chocolate waffles would be high on my list, too. Your son has excellent taste 🙂

    • His outfits are great – such a cool idea, we loved seeing him in all his finery (and without his clothes too!!). The chocolate waffles come highly recommended – that comes from quite the expert who sampled more than his fair share!!

    • Now that would be well worth seeing!! A peeing Santa – I would love to visit the Christmas markets in Brussels sometime, have to be sure to look out for the boy in his Christmas gear!!

    • Seems like it is Saturday you can seem him in all his finery – we didn’t know this in advance but were glad to see him in his suit and tie!! He’s a lot of fun too I think.

  7. You wrote a great introduction for this post, Joy. It just goes to show that the travel writers and guidebooks don’t know everything 🙂

  8. Cute post.. I made my way through Belgium once and along with the framboise beer and yummy waffles I did see Mr. Manneken Pis. You lucked out seeing him in clothes too! I only saw the naked statue. 🙂

    • We knew he got dressed up sometimes but not when – just glad we managed to catch him with clothes – lots of fun!! Glad you enjoyed the beer and waffles – we loved those sooo much too!!

  9. I had no idea they dressed him up in a suit either Joy! He does look smart! Sounds like you all had lots of fun in Brussels and the waffles and chocolates sound delicious too! Have a lovely weekend – I think there’s going to be a heatwave in the UK?! 🙂

    • The suit and clothes is a great touch Rosemary – such a lot of fun, I was so pleased we managed to see him in his finery!! Apparently next week is going to be scorching, I’ll believe it when I see it though…. you know what the great British summertime can be like, never trust the forecasters until it is actually here… still fingers crossed!!

      • Yes I know well Joy – you never quite believe the forecasts though to be fair I think that it can be difficult to predict – depends which way the wind decides to blow! I saw on the Sky weather channel here that London is supposed to be getting up to 35 for a couple of days at the end of next week – that will be stifling hot and unpleasantly humid! I do remember when we lived there that there was a very hot summer and really it was too unpleasant to do anything. We’re much more set up here in Perth for the hot summers and anyway it’s a drier heat (plus we get a cooling afternoon sea breeze a lot of the time 🙂 ). I’ll be interested to see how our daughter goes she’s been hoping for some warm weather but she may not like London in that sort of weather! Anyway hope you do get a lovely week weather wise! 🙂

  10. Thanks for this episode! My father brought home a souvenir of the boy after his WWII service in Belgium and it was around our house for years. Somewhere along the line it disappeared. On my one trip to Brussels 20 years ago, I didn’t get to see him. Instead we spent all our time at a huge and moving exhibit commemorating 50 years from the end of WWII called: “En 1945 j’avais vingt ans” (In 1945 I was twenty); Belgium had suffered horribly during the war.

    • Oh that’s a shame the little Manneken went missing, glad we’re not the only ones to choose him as our souvenir Bunty. The exhibition sounds incredible – right up my street. Later on in this trip we spent a few days exploring Flanders and the battle sites as well as a visit to the war graves – it really brought home the horrific events of the war years but was fascinating too.

  11. How funny that we enlarge famous icons in our heads before we see them! I too was surprised at how small our Belgian boy was, but saw him dressed in a natty, wet weather outfit so that made a visit worthwhile. We should expect The Little Mermaid to be small – clue is in the name – and I thought she was very pretty. Saw Molly Malone just a couple of weeks ago in Dublin – the “tart with a cart”, as the locals call her is fairly large but does she ever look miserable!

    • Small or not we very much enjoyed making his acquaintance – especially in his suit!! The wet weather outfit sounds great too. Last year when we were in Dublin Molly was away having “work” done – so we missed her!! We always seek her out when we’re there.

  12. They have a replica manneken pis at a station in Tokyo, dress him up daily and all.

    Just saw your last comment above there; I had no idea that Molly gets some work done from time to time… and I am from the southside of Dublin!!!! 🙂

      • And they dress him up so well – I’m surprised he’s not a super star!! Molly looks most beautiful in the snow. Thank you for making me think of her. I have fond memories of meeting friends there.

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