In a previous posting, we had touched upon a 61 centimeter bronze statue, called "Manneken-Pis", being the "...emblem of the rebellious spirit of Brussels". Little did we know just HOW important this statue has become. The original statue, cast in 1388, and fountain became a big factor in the distribution of drinking water to the citizens of Brussels. Multiple legends have been attached to the origins of Manneken-Pis;
The most famous legend pertains to the Duke Godfrey III of Leuven. Supposedly during a battle with the Berthouts in 1142, Belgium troops put the young 2 year old Duke into a basket and hung it in a tree where they could see him, in the hopes of encouraging them to fight harder. According to this legend, the Duke would urinate out of the basket and upon enemy troops.
The second most important legend developed out of a 14th century siege of Brussels during which enemy troops planned to set explosives along the city walls. Supposedly, a little boy named Julianske saw what was transpiring and urinated on the fuse of the bomb, thus saving the city.
Over the years, the statue has been stolen several times by various pranksters. The current statue, designed by Hieronymus Duquesnoy, has been on display since 1618. It even survived the bombardment of Brussels in 1695. Many copies of the statue have been made and displayed from Japan to Rio De Janeiro. Several times each week, and during big events, the statue is dressed in costumes by members of the Friends of Manneken-Pis voluntary organization. The Museum of the City of Brussels has a floor devoted to this little statue and houses the 900 costumes donated from countries and trade organizations around the world.