When I talk about Belgium, I often call it “a quirky little country.” This is true for many reasons, and one of them is its fascination with peeing. At least in terms of Brussels, the capital. There are three statues dedicated to peeing beings. No kidding. Yesterday a friend and I did a Brussels Pee Tour (our own inventive name) and made the rounds of all three.
Undoubtedly, the most famous is Manneken Pis, the peeing boy. There are several legends behind the statue, the one I’ve heard most often retold is perhaps the one of a little boy who peed on the fuses of explosives set by an enemy, thereby thwarting the city’s destruction. In any event, the statue was, er, erected in the early 1600’s and it has become the symbol of the city. Sometimes he is wearing one of his numerous outfits that coordinate with holidays and seasons; around July 4, he is often wearing an Uncle Sam outfit. The clothes can be seen in the Maison du Roi on the Grand Place, but yesterday he was au naturel.
Less famous, but no less odd, is Jeanneke Pis, the peeing girl. This statue was created in the 1980’s to counter manneken pis. She is often forgotten, as she is on a hard to find street, but if you are ever at the more famous Delirium Café, across from the front door, you will find Jeanneke unashamedly peeing away.
My favorite of the three statues, though, is the newest: Het Zinneke, the peeing dog. Het Zinneke is life-sized and determined-looking. He has been peeing on the post since 1998. He was missing for a few months after he was hit by a car and had to be restored. He will let you pet him, but don’t expect him to stop his determined urination.
All three statues are within about a five or six minute walk from the Grand Place. Do your own Pee Tour, and post your photos in the comments! I’d love to see them!