I’ve already expressed my doubts about the symbols of Brussels. I enjoy Belgium’s capital. I love its elegant art deco galleries, and its stunning, gold-plaited Grand’ Place, so it does seem odd to me that the symbols of the city are a giant model of an atom and a fountain dedicated to a urinating boy.
That little urinating boy – officially known as Manneken Pis – is (somehow) a beloved symbol of this elegant city.
I’ve walked by this fountain many times during my visits to Brussels. On my latest visit with my younger son, he was curious to see this fountain that inspired countless chocolates, tourist souvenirs, including statues, bottle openers, refrigerator magnets, mugs – all to be found on every street of Belgium’s capital. You name it, and this little boy is emblazoned upon it.
When I took my son to see it and he was able to squeeze through the big crowd taking their obligatory selfies, his first question was: “That’s it? That tiny statue?” Not such a strange question since the little boy is a mere 61 centimeters tall.
The statue is believed to date back to 1451. One of the oddities of this Brussels’ landmark is that this little boy has a wardrobe to envy. Apparently, it is customary for foreign heads of state and government and distinguished vistors to present this statue with sartorial gifts from their home country.
About 100 of these outfits are displayed, on a rotating basis, at the City Museum. Among his extensive wardrobe are a miniature Santa Claus outfit, a samurai robe and impressive Elvis wear.
On the next visit, we’ll be going to see this sartorial collection. On this visit, we only admired the tiny Manneken Pis. Nice, but not exactly the Trevi Fountain…