By Geert van Istendael , translated by Anna Asbury. Manneken Pis, the most famous inhabitant of Brussels, celebrates his th birthday. Although its origins are older, the bronze statue of the peeing boy as we know it today was made in With a mere 58 cm, Manneken Pis has grown from a fountain into the symbol of Brussels, known throughout the world. The little boy incarnates the carelessness of the inhabitants, but also their resistance. As you arrive in Brussels you see the town hall tower from afar.
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It also embodies their sense of humour called zwanze  in the dialect of Brussels and their independence of mind. The earliest mention of the existence of Manneken Pis can be found in an administrative text, dating from —, about the water lines supplying the fountains of Brussels. From the beginning, the fountain played an essential role in the distribution of drinking water. It stood on a column and poured water into a double rectangular basin of stone. The only representations of this first statue can be found, very schematically, in a painting by Denis Van Alsloot , representing Brussels' Ommegang of and in a preparatory drawing to this painting. The first statue was replaced by a new bronze version, commissioned in It was probably cast and installed in
The statue of the little boy is still there, looking as ordinary as ever, even in the Of the many statues we saw in Budapest this was not the best, there was no water running so the In NW Europe a statue of a nude boy would probably be impossible as depictions of nude children are forbidden.
Crouching below the boy and his frog friend is a grumpy looking faun riding atop a dolphin who looks none too pleased to be stuck holding up the marble basin. The small statue is a beloved fixture within the rather posh Country Club Plaza. The amusing, quirky piece is considered by most to be the whimsical highlight of the collection of fountains scattered throughout the area. The odd artwork was purchased from Florence , Italy , where it was crafted by sculptor Rafello Romanelli. It was installed in Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of Atlas Obscura in your inbox. Follow us on Twitter to get the latest on the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook to get the latest on the world's hidden wonders. Atlas Obscura and our trusted partners use technology such as cookies on our website to personalise ads, support social media features, and analyse our traffic. Please click below to consent to the use of this technology while browsing our site.