Brussels’ Grand Place and Manneken Pis

IMG_0753_2There are two things every tourist seems to visit when visiting Brussels: Grand Place and Manneken Pis.

Grand Place is a large, open cobblestone square bordered by looming 18th century guildhalls and the very grand (and tall) Brussels City Hall built in the 15th century.

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Does this statue remind you of Wonder Woman, or is it just me?

IMG_0809_2Things my tour book didn’t tell me about Grand Place:

  • The square began as an open-air marketplace toward the end of the 11th century.
  • Most of the (wooden) structures burned down in 1695 when the French army attacked. They rebuilt with stone.
  • During the Inquisition, the first Lutheran martyrs (Heinrich Voes and Johann Esch) were burned in the square in 1523.
  • In 1563 (or 1568, depending on the source), the Count of Egmont and the Count of Hoorn were beheaded in the square for treason against Spain. Goethe wrote a play about it in the late 18th century, for which Beethoven later composed his Overture to Egmont, Opus 84.

Every other August since 1971, they set up a huge carpet of flowers for a few days.

If you’re hoping to go, better get yourself to Belgium this week! They will begin to create the carpet on August 14th at noon. It will be on display from the 15th -17th of this month. I’m going to monitor #flowercarpet for pretty pictures.

Manneken-PisManneken Pis is a tiny statue of a boy, forever peeing into a fountain. It dates back to 1619, but according to my guide book, they don’t display the original statue. (Probably because it’s been stolen at least 7 times over the years.)

Still, this is a definite tourist draw. The crowd of people around the statue doesn’t seem to ever let up.

He’s quite the clotheshorse with over 900 different outfits. The day I went, he wore a casual suit with clogs.

As a female, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the lesser known Jeanneke Pis, which is–of course–a little girl peeing into a fountain. She doesn’t draw any crowds or wear cute outfits, and she’s behind a locked gate. So much for gender equality!

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