Perched on the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue des Grands Carmesin, Manneken Pis is the instantly recognisable small boy peeing who has been eliciting giggles from children since 1619.
Though he’s less than a metre tall, this relatively small statue still knows how to draw a crowd.
There are many legends and tales proclaiming to tell the story of why this small boy is so important, the most famous being that of Godfrey III of Leuven who supposedly put his small son in a basket during battle, so he could urinate on the enemy.
Lack of historical knowledge on this tiny sculpture hasn’t stopped tourists – and kidnappers! – from taking an interest. The poor boy has been kidnapped three times, once by England, the second time by France and then again by a Frenchman who smashed the original into tiny pieces. The statue which stands today was remade from the fragments that were found.
Though he’s famous for his nudity, depending when you visit Mannekin Pis (who is also known by the French as Little Julian) this little man may actually be clothed! He already boasts a wardrobe of over 800 costumes, including everything from a judo robe and Jamaican national dress to a Hungarian Hussar and a Russian cosmonaut suit. Most of the outfits are gifts from other nations or charities and are worn on rotation throughout the year. His clothing has become an attraction in its own right and a schedule of upcoming ensembles is can be viewed online.
Around 30 costumes are on display on the second floor of the nearby Museum of Brussels, while the rest are safely stored in the same building. Sadly, a number have been weather-damaged over the years but a catalogue of the whole range is viewable at the museum.