Peeing statues

Frédéric Solvel. Patrimoine

07 Mar 2017, 00:03 Last Updated: 30 Apr 2020, 11:04

Statues that pee… Brussels seems to have developed a certain liking for sites that are indeed effectuating a natural need. From the infamous Manneken to the more discrete Jeanneke to the canine Zinneke

© sylvainratton/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Manneken and Jeanneke

No need to further introduce Manneken-Pis (1619). This statue, standing 61 centimeters tall, turns the heads of easily amused tourists in the capital. Men are jealous of his right to freely urinate in the street while their company gushes over his outfit that would make Queen Elisabeth green with envy. However, little is clear about his origins

After many centuries of solitude, this brave Manneken was joined by his feminine counterpart: Jeanneke-Pis. Located on the other side of the Grand Place, she is also relieving herself without reserve.


Finally, there is the Zinneke Pis, the last of the peeing trio. This one is flippantly lifting a leg on a pole in the city next to the Halles Saint Géry! Erected in 1998 at the corner of Rue des Chartreux and Vieux Marché aux Grains, this canine version of the peeing statues nicely completes the family!  

Now is a good time to explain the word zinneke. Etymologically, we can divide the word like this: zenne-ke. Zenne is Dutch for the Senne River that ran through Brussels, and –ke is the suffix meaning “little.” This dog is peeing in the spot where the little Senne once flowed and on the banks of where Brussels was founded- the same waterway where mixed breed dogs were often abandoned.

Today, the expression zinneke describes the cosmopolitan and multicultural character that makes Brussels unique and proud to be so! Only one tiny regret… Only Manneken-Pis can be dressed up. Jeanneke is condemned to stay naked while Zinneke is happy with just his short hair! 


Crédit photo : Flickr - CC-BY-NC-SA by Arcadius

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