Manneken Pis Surroundings Walking Tour, Brussels (Self Guided)

Seen as the emblem of Brussels, Manneken Pis is a statue in the center of the city. The famous statue is surrounded by the city's fanciest points of interest, such as the Brussels Regional Parliament building, the Church of Our Lady and the Stock Exchange building. Take this three hour tour to visit the popular Manneken Pis and its wonderful surroundings in the center of Brussels.
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Manneken Pis Surroundings Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Manneken Pis Surroundings Walking Tour
Guide Location: Belgium » Brussels (See other walking tours in Brussels)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 km
Author: audrey
1
Gabrielle Petit Statue

1) Gabrielle Petit Statue

The statue of Gabrielle Petit commemorates her service to Belgium. Gabrielle Alina Eugenia Maria Petit (20 February 1893 – 1 April 1916) was a Belgian woman who spied for the British Secret Service during World War I. At the outbreak of the First World War, she was living Brussels as a saleswoman. She immediately volunteered to serve with the Belgian Red Cross. Petit's espionage activities began in 1914, when she helped her wounded soldier fiancé, Maurice Gobert, cross the border to the Netherlands to reunite with his regiment. She passed along to British Intelligence information about the Imperial German army acquired during the trip. The British soon hired her, gave her brief training, and sent her to spy on the enemy. She proceeded to collect information about enemy troop movements using a number of false identities. She was also an active distributor of the clandestine newspaper La Libre Belgique and assisted the underground mail service "Mot du Soldat". She helped several more young men across the Dutch border. Petit was betrayed by a German who represented himself as Dutch. Executed in 1916, she became a Belgian national heroine after the war's end. She is famous for not having revealed the identity of her comrades in exchange for clemency. In her native Tournai, a square was named after her. Several books were written and films were made about her life after the war.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Brussels Parliament Building

2) Brussels Parliament Building (must see)

The Regional Parliament Building, also known as the Brussels Parliament Building, is interesting from an architectural perspective. The majority of the building dates back to the early 20th century, but some wings date back to the 17th century. The building boasts a neoclassical architectural style, with a very modern hemicycle (horse-shoe shaped debating chamber) on the top floor of the building.

Historically, the site of the Regional Parliament Building was where the Maes family mansion was located. It was destroyed in 1695 during the Brussels bombardment. What remained of the mansion was bought by Count Charles van den Berghe. He constructed a new mansion on the site with an enclosed courtyard and garden. The mansion was acquired by the government in 1823 to house the Brabant government and to also serve as the home of the governor. Eventually, the mansion fell into disrepair and needed renovations and modifications. In 1995 Brussels split off from Brabant and created its own regional government. The Federal government gave the building to Brussels to serve as their parliament building. However, the building was unsuitable for that use so subsequent renovations were made. In additions to these recent renovations, the local government commissioned eleven artists to create works for different areas of the building.

Tip:
Individual visitors can freely visit the parliamentary chambers during business hours anytime, without the need for an online reservation. During the summer months, you can start your visit any time, while for the rest of the year visits are timed at certain hourly intervals (see here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/visiting/en/brussels/briefing-hemicycle-visits#individuals). There are also docent-led tours at certain times, and if you're really into the workings of the parliament, you can observe a live session on a first-come, first-served basis.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 1-6pm; Tue-Fri: 9am-6pm; Sat, Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Manneken Pis

3) Manneken Pis (must see)

The Manneken Pis or “Little Man Peeing” is probably one of the more popular statues in Brussels, both for its humor and the various legends that circulate about its origin. Cast from bronze, this small statue depicts a naked boy urinating into the basin of the fountain. The statue is the work of Hieronymus Duquesnoy, a Brussels sculptor, who completed the work in 1619. Through time, the statue has been stolen, so the one you see here is a copy that was cast in 1965. The original is housed in the Maison du Roi.

There are quite a few legends at the origins of the original design. One story says it commemorates a young boy who urinated on a burning fuse that kept an explosive charge from detonating and destroying the city’s fortification walls. Another story tells of a rich merchant whose son disappeared. After an extensive search of the city, the lost boy was found happily urinating in a garden. The statue was a token of appreciation from the boy’s father to the townspeople for their willingness to help find his son. Another story tells of a young boy who woke to a fire. He urinated on the fire, which put it out and spared the king’s castle from burning down. Today, visitors enjoy seeing the rotating costumes that adorn the little man. There are over 500 costumes in all, and his outfit is changed a few times a week.

Why You Should Visit:
To see the most overrated tourist attraction in the world – blink and you'll miss it.

Tip:
To complete the trifecta you should also visit Jeanneke Pis (pissing girl) and Zinneke Pis (pissing dog). Jeanneke Pis is about 550 meters away from Manneken Pis (or about 300 meters from Grand Place) and the pissing dog is also about 550 meters away in a different direction.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Église Notre-Dame du Bon Secours

4) Église Notre-Dame du Bon Secours (must see)

The Église Notre-Dame du Bon Secours (The Church of Our Lady of Assistance) is a 12th-century chapel. In 1669, the chapel underwent a well-planned and thoughtfully-executed renovation by the architects Cerckx and Corvrindt. The exterior shows a mix of Baroque-Flemish and Italian styles. The walls surrounding the church were demolished and the space expanded to reflect the current footprint. The building facade includes a cross of the Teutonic Order.

The interior of the church is unique with its hexagonal form, short naves and overall layout. In addition to the main altar, there is an Altar of St. Joseph and an Altar of St. James. A dramatic hammered copper piece depicting a resurrected Christ is particularly stunning. The church is still used by parishioners. Visitors are able to view the interior of the church to see its unique design and religious art objects. Along one side of the church is a quaint pedestrian street that features outdoor cafes. These provide a lovely setting to enjoy a coffee and admire the exterior of the church for an extended period.

Why You Should Visit:
Close enough to the Grand Place to be reached in a few minutes, but far enough to enjoy some peace and serenity if you need a break from the crowds.
A hidden, little architectural gem in the heart of Brussels – humble but very pleasant and tranquil.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-11:30am / 2-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Ancienne Belgique

5) Ancienne Belgique

The Ancienne Belgique is a performance space/theater that was one the local market vendors’ guild hall. At that time, the hall has many uses, including serving as a meeting place, a bank vault, a place for treating the sick, and more importantly, a place to party. The space has always served a sociocultural function. In the early 1900’s, during the Belle Époque, the interior of the building took on a German flavor with 1,500 seats and a lot of dancing. In the 1920s, the basement of the building was a space for young literary talent to present their works to the public and meet with fellow artists. Following World War II, the building was renovated into a modern music hall with soundproofing and improved acoustics. In the 1970s the building fell into a state of disrepair. The Belgian Ministry of Finance purchased the building in 1977 and started on the much needed repairs. By 1984, the building was in fine shape and reopened. The venue attracts a wide range of acts, and such performers have included Lou Red, The Cure, and the Clash. With 300 to 400 shows per year, it is one of the key music sites in Brussels.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Stock Exchange Building

6) Stock Exchange Building (must see)

The building that houses the Brussels Stock Exchange was constructed over a five-year period from 1868 to 1873. The building sprang from a health and beautification project that was undertaken in the city center in the late 1800s. The building blends Neo-Renaissance and Second Empire architectural styles. Neo-Renaissance, sometimes known as Renaissance Revival, is a broad architectural term that applies many 19th-century architectural revival styles that are neither Greek nor Gothic. Second Empire was a style popular in between 1865 and 1880 and reflects French elements that were in high fashion during the Second French Empire.

The Stock Exchange Building features detailed ornamentation and several sculptures that were created by famous artists, including the Jacquet brothers, de Groot, Carrier-Belleuse and Rodin. The pediment is supported by six columns and features a relief of a female, which is meant to represent the City of Brussels. On either side of her are figures which symbolize industry and trade. Two winged statues representing good and evil are located beneath the pediment. This building is closed to the public, but the exterior can be enjoyed and sitting on the stairs leading up the building can provide a resting spot for people watching or reading.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful building that has always been a focal point of this part of town and nowadays is used for exhibitions and the like, but it's the square outside that constantly draws attention, as there are always activities going on and even street shows on the weekends. Coffee at the square is a good idea.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Saint-Nicolas Church

7) Saint-Nicolas Church

The charming Saint Nicolas Church is located amid old houses behind the Bourse and is one of the oldest churches in Brussels. The church dates back over 1,000 years, but very little remains of the original building. The 14th century Gothic style façade covers the lines of the original 11th century Romanesque façade. In the Middle Ages, the church has a tall belfry that served as the city watch tower. However, it collapsed unexpectedly in 1714. The records note that the collapse killed one man and one pig. In 1695 the church was burned completely during the French bombing of Brussels. A remnant of this remains in the form of a cannonball lodged in one of the chapel pillars. The inside of the church holds The Virgin and Child painting by Rubens, as well as a Vladmir Icon dating back from Constantinople in 1131. Additionally, relics of the Martyrs of Gorkum can be observed. The martyrs depicted are Catholic priests that were executed during tumultuous religious times in the late 1500s. Through the years, there were movements to tear down the church to make way for vehicular traffic. However, the new traffic plan was not developed and the Saint Nicolas Church was spared. Equally remarkable is that the old houses surrounding the church have been preserved as well.
8
Jeanneke Pis

8) Jeanneke Pis

The Jeanneke Pis or “Little Girl Peeing” is a modern statue and fountain that was designed to serve as a counter to the famous Manneken Pis (Little Man Peeing). While Manneken Pis dates back to 1619, it took several hundred years for the female version to appear. The statue measure approximately a half-meter high and was made out of blue-grey limestone by artist Denis-Adrien Debouvrie. The piece was started in 1985 and erected in this location in 1987. The Jeanneke Pis carries the same face of contentment as the Manneken Pis. The Jeanneke Pis has not been embraced as warmly as her male counterpart and some say her presence is tolerated, rather than embraced like the Manneken Pis. It is believed that throwing your coin in the fountain will ensure your deepest wish is granted.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Brussels, Belgium

Create Your Own Walk in Brussels

Create Your Own Walk in Brussels

Creating your own self-guided walk in Brussels is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
A Walking Tour in Heysel Park

A Walking Tour in Heysel Park

Situated in north Brussels, Heysel Park was home to the 1935 Brussels International Exposition. Today, Heysel Park is a great place to take your family and kids, it is home to such entertainment venues as the Planetarium, Carousel and Oceade water park. Heysel Park also includes a number of significant tourist spots, such as the Atomium, the Palace of Exhibitions, Bruparck, and other Art Deco...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
City Center Gift Shops

City Center Gift Shops

It would be a pity to leave Brussels without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Brussels, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit. All shops are located within a pleasant walking distance, in Central Brussels.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
City Center Orientation Walk

City Center Orientation Walk

Brussels is a major European capital with a remarkable history and cultural heritage. It features a large number of architectural sites, museums and world -famous specialty shops. Take a walk and discover the main landmarks of Brussels such as the world-renowned Grand Place and the Royal Palace.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 km
Chocolate Shops Tour

Chocolate Shops Tour

Belgium is considered one of the best producers of chocolate. Its capital, Brussels, offers you the opportunity to taste more than 2000 different types of chocolate. There is a plethora of chocolate shops in Brussels which offer chocolates of all shapes, sizes and colors imaginable. Go ahead and take a look at Brussels most visited chocolate shops in this tour.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Mont Des Arts Walk

Mont Des Arts Walk

Mont des Arts, meaning "hill/mount of the arts", is a historic site in the center of Brussels. The Mont des Arts offers one of Brussels' finest views, the famous tower of the Brussels Town Hall in the Grand Place is clearly visible. On a sunny day, the Koekelberg Basilica and even the Atomium can be seen.
Major tourist attractions are located within walking distance of the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
Cinquantenaire Walking Tour

Cinquantenaire Walking Tour

Cinquantenaire is a famous public park in Brussels. Planned by King Leopold in the late 19th century, Cinquantenaire hosts some of the most significant museums in Brussels, such as the Museum of Art and History, the Museum of the Army and Military History, and the Autoworld museum. There are also a number of monuments located in the park. Check out this guide to fully explore this wonderful park.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


What to Buy in Brussels: 15 Ideas for Travelers

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It's no secret that Brussels is not all about JCVD muscles and EU headquarters. Small country as such, Belgium abounds in signature items, such as beer, chocolates and... the peeing boy. All of these have made prime Belgian souvenirs for years. Now you can explore the Brussels gift scene in...
Belgian Beer Tour of Brussels

Belgian Beer Tour of Brussels

Belgium is world-renowned for its beers and Brussels is the best city to sample the huge variety of flavors. We'll show you the best places to buy them and to drink them. We'll even show you a family brewery where the liquid gold is produced right in front of your eyes! This tour is meant...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Brussels for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Brussels has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money getting around Brussels and visiting the city's multiple highlights, you may want to resort to the Brussels City Card.

Among other conveniences, this card allows its bearer to explore Brussels's top attractions, tours, restaurants, bars and clubs, and selected shops either completely free of charge (41 museums) or with great (up to 50%) discounts. The card provides 24-, 48-, or 72-hour passes to these locations, plus free ride on the hop-on hop-off bus and public transportation (optional) thus putting Brussels at your fingertips! Reduced rates for children and students also apply at participating venues.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Brussels hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: NH Brussels Carrefour de L’Europe, Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo, Hotel Novotel Brussels Off Grand Place.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Brussels, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close, with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, as a guided tour of Brussels typically costs from around US$20 up to US$50+ per person:

- Take a 3-hour guided walk around central Brussels to discover the city's historic locations, learn about its legendary men and women who made history, delve into the origins of Brussels, and acquaint yourself with the Belgian capital's contemporary culture and gastronomy;

- Embark on a must-see tour of real Brussels exploring the city's top attractions through the eyes of a local guide revealing a flip side of the well-known locations, plus discovering a few secret spots only the locals know about, away from the trodden tourist paths. En route, you may give yourself a treat to the authentic Belgian cuisine at a local eatery, not forgetting the world-famous Belgian chocolate, plus indulge yourself in some other local delights along the way.

- Appreciate Belgian gastronomy in its diversity – chocolate, waffles, beers, fries, and more – on the Food and Beer walking tour of Brussels offering a unique chance to savor a variety of local foods, drink local beers and unleash your sweet tooth onto the delicious local chocolate, whilst listening to a great deal of fun stories associated with each of these delights!

- Come and see what's made Belgium an international beer superpower on a 2.5-hour beer tasting tour of Brussels led by a local expert. Here, you will learn to tell a difference between the Belgian and foreign-made brews plus acquaint yourself with some of the 1,000+ craft beers made in this country.

- Pedal your way across Brussels on a 3.5-hour guided biking tour to discover the city's beauty manifested in its top landmarks, breath in the local atmosphere, plus enjoy along the way some of the best fries and beer (optional) the city has to offer.

- Explore the artistic side of Brussels on the tour following in the footsteps of renowned Belgian artists who left their mark in the field of Surrealist painting and Art Nouveau architecture. On this tour you will see some of the city's hidden gems, visit independent galleries and more, led step by step by a knowledgeable local guide.

Day Trips


If you have a half or full day to spare whilst in Brussels, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Ghent and Bruges, Antwerp, Maasmechelen, or Waterloo. For as little as US$10+ to US$100+ you will get a chance to acquaint yourself with the UNESCO World Heritage city of Ghent's medieval architecture, learn about Bruges's Viking and Middle Age history, get to see Antwerp - the hometown of Peter Paul Rubens and one of the largest harbors in the world, shop till you drop at Maasmechelen Village with over 100 international boutiques offering big-name brand clothing at reduced (down to 40%) prices, plus visit the site of one of the most significant battles in the history of Europe that saw the ultimate defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. All these trips start and end at your hotel and you'll be carried by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minivan, accompanied by an English-speaking tour guide.