- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Manneken Pis among world's most 'overhyped tourist traps', says US travel site
Brussels' famous Manneken Pis has been named one of the world's most "overhyped, over-rated tourist traps to avoid at all costs".
The little statue appears in a list drawn up by US travel website Far & Wide of well-known attractions around the world which it considers "not worth your time". Other sights on the list include the Tower of Pisa, the Taj Mahal, Times Square and Niagara Falls.
The site says of Manneken Pis: "Lest we start to think Americans have a lock on the tacky, Brussels steps up. This inexplicably famous statue shows a little boy urinating into a fountain.
"Let’s be honest: If you go to Brussels, you’ll probably go to see him. But at least you won’t expect much. It’s a little boy. Peeing. That’s it."
Manneken Pis has rarely been left in peace throughout the centuries. In 1745, English troops abducted the statuette during the War of the Austrian Succession, but it was rescued in the East Flemish town of Geraardsbergen.
Only two years later, soldiers of Louis XV set their collective eye on the cherubic bronze. The French king arrested the culprits and gave the Manneken back, out of fear of a revolt.
In 1817, another tumultuous year, Manneken Pis was stolen by a released convict. When it was eventually retrieved, the statuette was in several pieces. The parts were used to create a new boy in bronze.
Almost 150 years later, in 1965, Manneken was the victim of vandals for the last time. Half of the sculpture, from the knees up, went missing. It was found back miraculously in the Brussels-Charleroi canal months later.
After restoration works, the original Manneken was put safely on display in a museum and the empty spot on top of the fountain was replaced with a replica.
The tradition of dressing the Manneken Pis started in the 17th century but the oldest surviving costume today is the one given by Louis XV in 1747. Since then there has been a steady stream of offered costumes. He wears approximately 130 per year, all according to an official calendar.
Not anyone can offer the Manneken a costume. An official request must be made to the city which is then evaluated by a special committee. Due to his size and proportions, as well as the need to accommodate the water pipe in his back, all costumes are complicated custom sewing jobs.
About 100 of the little man's different outfits are on display at the Garde-Robe du Manneken Pis, up the hill from the fountain on Rue du Chêne.