Manneken Pis ("little man piss" in English), is a Brussels landmark. It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a little boy urinating into the fountain's basin. Similar statues can be found in the towns of Geraardsbergen and Hasselt.
There are several legends behind this statue, but the most famous is the one about Duke Godfried II of Brabant. In 1142, the troops of this two-year-old lord were battling against the troops of the Berthouts, the lords of Grimbergen, in Ransbeke (currently Neder-over-Heembeek). The troops put the infant lord in a basket and hung it in a tree, to encourage them. From there, he urinated on the troops of the Berthouts, who eventually lost the battle.
Another legend goes like this: in the 14th century, Brussels was under
siege by a foreign power. The city had held their ground for quite
some time. The attackers had thought of a plan to place explosive
charges at the city walls. A little boy named Juliaanske from Brussels
happened to be spying on them as they were preparing. He urinated on
the burning fuse and thus saved the city.
There was already a similar statue made of stone in the middle of the 15th century, perhaps as early as 1388. The statue was stolen several times. In 1619 it was replaced by a bronze statue, created by Franco-Flemish Baroque sculptor Jerôme Duquesnoy.
On many occasions the statue is dressed in a costume. His wardrobe now
consists of several hundred different costumes. According to an
article posted in the History section of www.manneken-pis.com/intro.html, the statue was at one time used to dispense liquor.
The costumes are changed according to a schedule managed by the non-profit association Les Amis de Manneken-Pis, in ceremonies that are often accompanied by brass band music. When the boy's stream is turned on after dressing, the build-up of pressure after such a long abstinence can lead to bystanders being sprinkled, to general delight.