BELGIUM: Grand Place and Manneken Pis

Brussels Belgium Grand PlaceBrussels Belgium Manneken PisThe city of Brussels in Belgium is the capital of the European Union. But even way before the European Union was established, people all over Europe was already amazed by the beauty of the Grand Place and the many stories behind the Manneken Pis.

Brussels Belgium Manneken PisThe Manneken Pis is Brussels' most popular symbol. It has been displayed in the city since the 15th century. The current bronze Manneken Pis statue is not even the original Manneken Pis. The original statue was made of stone and was often stolen. It is currently in Maison du Roi in the Grand Place. This is just the history of the statue itself and it is already very colorful. Now, with regards to the story of the origin of the statue,  you will get different answers depending on when you ask it and who you ask it from.

Brussels Belgium Manneken PisA common story behind the Manneken Pis that is often told by tourist guides is that the statue was carved from an image of a merchant's child who went missing and was urinating when he was finally found. Another famous story is that the peeing boy is actually a lord. His army went into war and they brought their little lord with them. They hang him on a tree for motivation then he ended up peeing on the enemy which motivated the army more and they end up winning the battle. Another fairytale-like story behind the Manneken Pis is that an errand boy in a castle woke up in the middle of the night and discovered a fire starting in the castle and he stopped the fire before it spread out by urinating on it. The king was so pleased with the heroics of the they that he built a statue dedicated to him.

Brussels Belgium Jeanneke Pis
Jeanneke Pis
The Manneken Pis is located in a little street and there are not that many signs that points to its direction. This often causes frustration to tourists trying to find it, including yours truly. We almost gave up looking for this Belgian icon because we were pressed in time. We do not want to miss our train. We just got lucky to finally find a small sign that points to it. We tried to ask around and too before we saw that sign and we were pointed to the Jeanneke Pis instead. We even had no idea that it existed. The Jeanneke Pis looks like it was just a privately owned sculpture in a narrow dead end alley way. It is basically a female version of the Manneken Pis. We are not sure if they take out that gate in front of her because we were there pretty early in the morning so we are thinking maybe they just lock her in to avoid theft. The photo on the right is the best shot we can get of her, and we can't hang around any longer since we are still in a hurry trying to look for the Manneken Pis at this point when we saw her.

Brussels Belgium Grand PlaceThe Grand Place is the complete opposite of the Manneken Pis. We had no trouble at all trying to get to this iconic square. From the Bourse Station of the Metro, we just followed the biggest streets until we saw a big space opening into the Grand Place. It was a surreal feeling the first time we stepped into the Grand Place. It felt like we just traveled back in time. In every angle we look, all we see are well-maintained 1800s architecture and the cobblestones all through the Grand Place just completes the 19th century feel.

Brussels Belgium Grand PlaceThe main buildings of the Grand Place are the Hotel de Ville, the Maison du Roi, and the different guildhalls. The Hotel de Ville, also known as the Brussels Town Hall, is a Gothic-style building it has the tallest tower amongst the other buildings in the Grand Place. The Maison du Roi, also known as the King's House, was built in a place used to be occupied by bread markets; this is the reason why it is also called the Breadhouse. The guilds then built houses to the sides of these two buildings eventually forming the square we now know as the Grand Place.

Brussels Belgium Grand Place
We decided again to drop by Grand Place the morning of our train ride out of Belgium to take more pictures of the Grand Place before looking for the Manneken Pis. Sadly the pictures did not came out pretty good because it was still a bit dark. The only good thing is that the place is empty compared to the typical crowd in the Grand Place.

Brussels Belgium Grand Place