Manneken and Jeanneke Pis, Brussels

It’s strange to think millions of people who visit Brussels hunt out a statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain. Stranger still, to think they might search for a similar statue of a little girl doing the same. And yet, that’s just what I found myself doing when I visited the city.

Mannekin Pis is a statue known worldwide. The origins of the statue are sketchy, but some of the theories will certainly bring a smile to your face. The popular story told to tourists is of a merchant who was visiting the city with his family when his young son went missing. They searched frantically for him, only to discover him urinating in a garden. As a token of thanks for helping to find his son, the merchant donated the statue to the city.Manneken Pis, Brussels - statue of a small boy urinating into a fountainWhatever the true story may be, the statue has been in Brussels since 1619 and although it has been stolen several times, it has always been replaced. It is now as much an icon of the city as the beer and chocolate, and the locals like to dress the statue up for special occasions. In fact, there’s even a museum you can visit to see all of the outfits he’s worn!

The lesser-known statue of Jeanneke Pis is tucked away in a side street of Brussels, amongst the hustle and bustle of the surrounding restaurants and pubs. Making an appearance in 1987, she was intended to be the female counterpart to Manneken Pis, and is a statue of a small girl urinating in a fountain. A bit more tricky to find than Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis is tucked away down a side street just a few minutes walk away. Bars cover the statue to protect it from vandalism, and there’s a good chance you’ll be swarmed by a tour group if you stay in the deadend street too long.Jeanneke Pis, Brussels - statue of a small girl urinating into a fountainWhile I was in Brussels, I went on the hunt to see the two statues. Manneken Pis was pretty easy to find, and for the most part I just followed the crowds. The statue itself is on a street corner close to Grote Markt, and both times I visited there was a small crowd jostling for a photo – bit of a giveaway of where the statue is. Jeanneke Pis, on the other hand, was tricky to find. I had it marked on the map where the statue is, but what the map didn’t show is that the street only has one way in. This meant that my boyfriend and I tried to approach from the other street, only to find that there was a wall where I thought the street should be.

Heading around the block, we tried again. The little street is just that – little. It is more a side alley than an actual street, and we walked past it twice thinking it was just the side of a bar. Looking closer, we ventured down the dimly lit alley and spotted the railings that protect the statue. Bingo! After posing for a few photos, we started to wonder whether many people found the statue, as we were the only people there which hadn’t been the case at Manneken Pis. No sooner had we spoken the words than a swarm of giggling school children descended upon us, led by their umbrella-wielding tour guide. It’s really not spacious enough to accommodate more than 10-15 people, and we’d taken all the photos we wanted, so we made our way back to Grote Markt to check out the evening light show.

Have you visited either statue? What did you think?

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15 Comments

  1. October 20, 2015 / 2:32 pm

    I’ve never heard of Jeanneke Pis! That’s really interesting. I was in Brussels earlier this year and we sought out Manneken Pis mostly because it’s one of the few things to see in Brussels. The statue was a lot smaller than I expected and there there so many tourists crowded around him. Personally, I thought the whole thing was a little overrated, but the story behind the statue is interesting!

    • Yeah I was a bit underwhelmed by it too, but it was one of those things I wanted to see. There’s apparently another statue of a dog urinating that is part of the set, though I didn’t see that while I was there.

      • October 20, 2015 / 3:46 pm

        Wow, I didn’t know there was a little collection of urinating statues in Brussels haha! I’ll definitely have to seek out the other two if i ever go back to Brussels, just to say I did 🙂

  2. October 20, 2015 / 3:05 pm

    We visited both, and while not impressive in size, they are entertaining! We accidentally found the Jeanneke pis while bar hopping, but had to make an effort to see the Manneken!

  3. October 20, 2015 / 8:28 pm

    I live in Brussels 😀 and sometimes It is funny to tell people who are excited to see Manneken Pis,that it is even smaller than you can imagine,I remember my disappointment when I saw it first time and later when my Husband saw it first time ,I couldn’t control my laugh!

  4. October 21, 2015 / 10:57 pm

    Searching for urinating statues in Brussels. This is quite an interesting story you got out here 🙂

  5. October 23, 2015 / 8:51 pm

    One tip on how to find the statue of the little peeing girl is to direct people to the restaurant Chez Leon on the “fish restaurant street” [a genuine tourist trap], Rue des Bouchers, downtown Brussels. When you get there you just turn the street corner to cul-de-sac street where you will find Jeanneke.
    While there why don’t you try out the so Belgian speciality Moules-frites at Chez Leon. That special combination of chips and mussels might sound strange but is in fact quite tasty By the way Chez Leon and Aux Armes de Bruxelles are the only genuine restaurants on that street. Enjoy!

  6. October 24, 2015 / 10:56 pm

    Very interesting post! Haha. We happened to be on the hunt for waffles, joined in a parade and followed them until the parade stopped and we got stuck. We took this time out to point at all the waffle shops and narrow the selection down. We paid a little bit more attention to the parade and realised they were dancing infront of Mannekin Pis, singing and there was even a marching band! I found the statue very strange – my sister told me to go on a hunt for it and to have my picture take by the Mannekin pis huge statue eating a waffle – I just had to lol.

    After showing our hotel host the pics of the parade he mentioned it was a political movement! The flags which were raised said ‘leuven’ :/

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