This little bronze statue, produced in the 17th century by Jérôme Duquesnoy the Elder, is the current embodiment of the rebellious spirit of Brussels. Also known as ‘Petit Julien’, due to confusion with another fountain, het Julianekensborre, it was, since the Middle Ages, one of the many fountains supplying the city with water. From being a public fountain, it now has legendary status. In addition to its purely material aspect, Manneken-Pis gradually took on the symbolic roles of protector of the city and spokesman for the people of Brussels, embodying them with an often mischievous and irreverent tone.
It has become customary to dress the little man up for special occasions and festivities. The proud owner of countless costumes and decorations, his wardrobe includes some 1,000 pieces, which can be admired at the GardeRobe MannekenPis, a museum opened in 2017. The oldest was donated by the Elector of Bavaria in 1698. Unfortunately, Manneken-Pis has suffered from numerous acts of vandalism. He was first removed by the English in 1745. Two years later, he was stolen by the French. Louis XV was informed of this and offered him a rich suit of gold brocade as reparation for this outrage and awarded him the Cross of Saint Louis. In 1817, the statuette, stolen this time by a pardoned French convict, was found broken. The fragments were used to make the statuette that now adorns the ancient fountain.