Maison du Roi
At nos.29 to 33, LA MAISON DU ROI, in neo-gothic style, just opposite town hall, was originally a baker's guildhall, "Halle au Pain". It changed its name to Maison du Roi, since it received a function of law court decreed by Phillip II of Spain. It houses the MUSEE DE LA VILLE DE BRUXELLES, a remarkable museum, very useful if you want to understand the evolution of the city. Objects, scale models, pictures, paintings, all very surprising images of the city in ancient times, scattered settlements on islands on the river Senne, reminding Venice. Notice a very impressive painting of the terrible bombing of the city in 1695 where the whole centre of Brussels was destroyed.
Very interesting are also about 600 various costumes and uniforms brought to the city by foreign visitors and representatives of various international organizations to clothe Manneken Pis. Our little boy wears them at special occasions.
The last houses around the Grand Place, are more ordinary, called "Le Heaume", "Le Paon", "Le Petit Renard et le Chene", "Sainte-Barbe" et "l'Ane".
Let's walk now leisurely to the best-known attraction of Brussels, you know who I mean: MANNEKEN PIS. South of the square take the Bulstraat (where the rub statue of 't Serclaes comes out of a wall), continue through the Rue de l'Etuve and at the corner of the Eiken straat (rue du Chêne) stands the little rascal with its very sympathetic little smile on
his face. The biggest postcard and little statue success in Belgium! Hardly 60 cm high, you will say: "But he is so small, he looked bigger on pictures!"
The mystery surrounding the origins of Manneken-Pis has created many legends; among them the following: the son of a rich bourgeois was lost. His parents found him at the corner of the rue de l'Etuve and rue du Chêne, relieving himself in the same way as the famous fountain.
Some believe the Manneken-Pis owes his origin to a young boy who extinguished by "watering" a firecracker meant to blow up the Town-Hall.
Manneken-Pis has become part of the life of the city, of all the tragic or fortunate events in its existence. It is a bronze statuette, achieved in the beginning of the seventeenth century by Jérôme Duquesnoy. The oldest bourgeois of Brussels, represents the spirit of Brussels, slinger and mischievous. He became a character fetish: his nonchalant, roguish air, rascal, perfectly symbolize the joking mind and the sense of humour of the inhabitants of Brussels.
Since its creation, the famous " Manneken " lived through a lot of adventures. In 1695, during the bombardment of the city by troops of Louis the fourteenth, the statuette was put in security. After the cannonade, the Manneken Pis was walked through the city, accompanied by music and escorted by an enthusiastic crowd. The statue was replaced then on its pedestal and became a kind of fetish for the inhabitants of Brussels.
During the war of Succession of Austria, in 1745, the statuette was removed for the first time by the English soldiers. One found it to Grammont. One tells that the inhabitants of Brussels would have offered a retort of the Manneken Pis in the city of Grammont, but, in fact, this is not exact. Indeed, the Manneke Pis of Grammont (which is written without n) is the oldest of Flanders. It is an original statuette witch dates from 1455.
Two years later, May 31, 1749, some French pomegranate trees seized of the Manneken Pis, but they were taken in the act. The inhabitants of Brussels, angry, revolted and it was only thanks to the intervention of the king of France Louis the fifteenth that his soldiers escaped the death. The king made the prison throw thieves. In repair of this outrage, the king of France offered to the Manneken Pis a dress of brocade, embroidered of gold and decorated with the Saint-Louis cross. The first dress had been offered in 1698 by the voter of Bavaria, on the occasion of arbalétriers festivities. Since, Manneken Pis received more than six hundred dresses that are preserved to the Maison du Roi, described earlier in this article.
"Guide illustré de Bruxelles "by D.des Marez (Brussels 1979), " Gids " voor Vlaanderen (Vlaamse Toeristenbond), "Brussel, groei van een hoofdstad, by Jean Stengers (Antwerp, 1979), Guides du Routard (ed.Hachette 1979)"Vlaanderen's roem", by Guido Peeters (Brussels 1975), "Bruxelles au Moyen Age", by A. Joris ( Paris 1987),"Brussels : Fin De Siecle", by Philippe Roberts-Jones(Evergreen Series),"Brussels : The Art of Living", by Piet Swimberghe(1998)