Manneken Pis Surroundings Walking Tour (Self Guided), Brussels

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 or 0.8 Miles
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

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