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Mannekin Pis picture in Brussels
Gussied Up picture in Brussels
Mannekin Pis picture in Brussels
Gussied Up picture in Brussels

Key Info

Details

  • Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing Type
  • Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
4.8
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

This little boy has put Brussels on the tourist map; people travel to this city from all over the world just to catch a glimpse of him urinating. The legend behind the Manneken Pis (which translates to little peeing man in Dutch) varies widely depending on who you ask. One popular story is of a little boy relieving himself on a witch's doorstep. Catching the boy in the act, the witch wished to punish him by turning him into stone, forcing him into that compromising position for eternity. A local, who witnessed the entire incident, ran to the boy and replaced him with a statue in the nick of time, making the boy miss the curse entirely. Another very popular story is that of a little boy stopping Brussels from meeting its demise. Enemy forces, intent on destroying Brussels, lit a small fire with the hopes it would spread and burn the city to the ground. A wandering little boy, who apparently really needed to go to the bathroom, saw the fire and put it out with his natural resources, thus saving the city. 

While the statue itself is of a child in the nude, he has been the recipient of about 800 different costumes, a tradition that began when Maximilian II Emanuel gave him a soldier's uniform in 1698. Since then Manneken Pis has been many things, including Santa and Elvis. Those interested in learning more about Manneken Pis should take a trip to the Museum of the City of Brussels, where more than 100 of his outfits are on display. The museum also has a digital archive of every single outfit that Manneken Pis has worn for visitors to view.

Unlike the Belgians, however, travelers are torn over Manneken Pis. Some are very tickled by the peculiar monument, while others think it's completely underwhelming. Most agree they were surprised by the boy's small size, especially considering the amount of hype the statue gets. Although Manneken Pis gets mixed reviews, many point out that its close proximity to Grand-Place and the waffle shops on Rue Charles Buls, makes a quick visit worthwhile. 

Love him or hate him, there is always a reason to return to the Manneken Pis — whether it's to see what he's wearing or to watch him spout wine or beer (which happens several days each year). Manneken Pis also has a sister — the Jeanneke Pis — which can be found nearby on rue des Bouchers.

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Hotels Nearby

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Hotel Amigo, a Rocco Forte Hotel

Hotel Amigo, a Rocco Forte Hotel ...

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  • 5.0-star Hotel Class
La vieille Lanterne

La vieille Lanterne ...

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  • 1.0-star Hotel Class
Hotel La Légende

Hotel La Légende ...

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#1 Manneken Pis This little boy has put Brussels on the tourist map; people travel to this city from all over the world just to catch a glimpse of him urinating. The legend ... Read more » Luke1138 / iStockphoto.com

#2 Grand-Place Whether you're just passing through Brussels or here for a week, you can't miss the Grand-Place. This square marks the heart of Brussels' Lower Town district. Flanked by ... Read more » FrankyDeMeyer / Flickr

#3 St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral It's less ornate than other Gothic churches, but most agree the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral's no-frills design is a refreshing quality. St. Michael and St. Gudula ... Read more » Soo Hon Keong / Getty Images

#4 Musical Instruments Museum If you love music, then place the Musée des Instruments de Musique (the Musical Instruments Museum) at the top of your Brussels to-do list. This facility has 1,200 mechanical ... Read more » dalbera / Flickr

#5 Horta Museum Art lovers should not pass up the chance to see where Victor Horta — the father of the Art Nouveau movement — lived and worked. Inspired by 20th century changes to the ... Read more » François BERNARDIN / Wikimedia Commons

#6 Royal Museum of the Army and Military History For those of you interested in military history, this museum makes for a great afternoon. Located in the Cinquantenaire district, the Royal Museum of the Army and Military History (Musée ... Read more » Royal Museum of the Army and Military History

#7 Cantillon Brewery When it comes down to it, a trip to Brussels isn't complete unless you've sampled the beer. In order to knock that off your list, head to the ... Read more » Lukasz Wisniewski / Getty Images

#8 Palais de Justice As you might've guessed, the Palais de Justice houses the city's law courts and is considered to be Belgium's supreme court of law. This building was one ... Read more » Francisco Anzola / Flickr

#9 Mini-Europe In reality, Europe is a very big place, and unless you have years to dedicate, there's no hope of seeing everything. For those with time-sensitive itineraries, there is Mini-Europe ... Read more » Nigel's Europe & beyond / Flickr

#10 Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium If you only have time to hit one art museum, the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts (Royal Museums of Fine Arts) should be it. The museum houses 20,000 works of ... Read more » elPadawan / Flickr

#11 Atomium Considered to be a symbol of Brussels and Belgium, this molecule-shaped stainless steel structure was originally built for the 1958 World's Fair, but due to its popularity, ended up ... Read more » James Cridland / Flickr

#12 Belgian Comic Strip Center A couple of hours at the Belgian Comic Strip Center, or the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee, are a treat for kids and the young-at-heart. After all, Brussels is ... Read more » Alex Guibord / Flickr

Mannekin Pis picture in Brussels
Grande-Place picture in Brussels
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral picture in Brussels
Wurlitzer Organ picture in Brussels
Horta Museum picture in Brussels
Royal Museum of the Army and Military History picture in Brussels
Cantillon Brewery picture in Brussels
Palais de Justice picture in Brussels
Mini-Europe picture in Brussels
Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium picture in Brussels
The Atomium picture in Brussels
Belgian Comic Strip Center picture in Brussels
Mannekin Pis picture in Brussels
Grande-Place picture in Brussels
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral picture in Brussels
Wurlitzer Organ picture in Brussels
Horta Museum picture in Brussels
Royal Museum of the Army and Military History picture in Brussels
Cantillon Brewery picture in Brussels
Palais de Justice picture in Brussels
Mini-Europe picture in Brussels
Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium picture in Brussels
The Atomium picture in Brussels
Belgian Comic Strip Center picture in Brussels

This iconic little boy is one of Brussels' most beloved sites. His origin varies depending on the storyteller. Luke1138 / iStockphoto.com

The Flower Carpet takes over the Grand-Place for a weekend every two years. FrankyDeMeyer / Flickr

This church sits several blocks northeast of the Brussels train station and is open to the public daily.  Soo Hon Keong / Getty Images

See pieces like this Wurlitzer Organ at the Musical Instruments Museum. dalbera / Flickr

François BERNARDIN / Wikimedia Commons

Royal Museum of the Army and Military History

Beer Bottling process at Cantillon Brewery Lukasz Wisniewski / Getty Images

Various statues greet guests as they walk through the rooms of the Palais de Justice Francisco Anzola / Flickr

This attraction is home to miniature versions of Europe's greatest landmarks Nigel's Europe & beyond / Flickr

Guests browse art in the great hall of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium elPadawan / Flickr

Sun shines on Brussel's giant Atomium James Cridland / Flickr

The Adventure's of Tintin's rocket greets guests as they enter the Belgian Comic Strip Museum Alex Guibord / Flickr

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