When you think of Brussels, Belgium, what comes to mind? When I thought about Brussels, the only thing that I could think of was that the EU met there. I knew there was a large building with EU flags outside of it. But when we got to Brussels and everything was closed, what were we supposed to do? Well, that is where this article comes in!
Brussels is a city full of weird facts, fun art, and is probably most famous for it’s “Peeing Boy” fountain. In this article we’ll explore a couple of those “weird” staples of Brussels, and maybe make your next trip a little more of an adventure!
- The Peeing Boy and Girl Statues
The Peeing Boy statue is one of Brussel’s most well-known attractions. The Peeing Boy, or Manneken Pis, as is it’s orginal name, is located 5 minutes from the main square. The statue features a little boy peeing water as the fountain head, and has a little pool of water below. The original statue was built in the 1600s by Jerome Duquesnoy the Elder, and the statue that currently stands in that spot is a replica built in 1965. Along the street that the statue stands on, there are a selection of chocolate and souvenir shops that sell adorable replicas of the statue. We thought the statue was fun to see. It’s generally very busy as it is a prime tourist attraction, but definitely worth it!
The Peeing Girl, or Jeanneke Pis, is a similar statue to the Peeing Boy. It features a girl squatting to pee into a fountain. However, the Peeing Girl’s fountain is not on, and the statue itself is found in an alleyway behind a set of bars. Wikipedia says that the fountain is barred to protect it from vandalism, but it does tell an odd story to visitors. We were left wondering why the statue is where it is, and why it is not the major attraction that the little boy is. When we were trying to find the girl, we noticed people following us around corners and through the streets. I think what happened was that other tourists were also trying to find her, as once we did everyone else stopped there as well!
2. Cartoon Street Art
Throughout Brussels there are comic book murals on the sides of buildings. The comics featured include Archie and Jughead, Tintin, and so many more! Also known as the Brussels Comic Book Route, throughout the inner city and outside neighbourhoods there are large murals depicting some funny scenes and characters that we all know and love! Even the characters that I or Josh didn’t know gave us lots to laugh at and admire.
If walking around the city doesn’t sound like your ideal day, however, you can also visit the Brussels Comic Book Museum. Unfortunately we were not able to go as it was closed, but walking around and finding comics on the sides of random buildings was enough for us. Some of the comics have a small map beside them that will tell you where the nearest comics are, others you just need to keep an eye out for! I would recommend going to at least a couple, as Archie and Tintin are two that are fairly close to the city centre. We spent hours walking around Brussels looking for comics, and it allowed us to see a lot of the city along the way. Definitely an inventive and fun way to tour Brussels!
3. Commemoration of Peter the Great’s Vomit
Okay I know what you’re thinking here: Why???? Well, that’s what I thought too while scrolling through Pinterest trying to find some cool places to visit. Well, the story is that on April 16, 1717 Tsar Peter Alexeyevich had what today would be a massive hangover after partying all night in Brussels. So while being shown around the city, he felt ill. That caused him to vomit in Brussels Park, and a bust was commemorated in his honour. I mean, of course. Who wouldn’t want a bust of them put where they vomited?
This “attraction” (if you want to call it that) is located in a small area of Brussels park. When entering the park, you’ll find lots of grand statues, keep walking and you’ll see a pathway of busts. It’s not there. Go down a hill to your left. There it is. A bust. A couple feet away from it is a beautiful statue of a woman lying down. I’ll insert a picture of this statue. Unfortunately we were not able to find out any information on it, but it is a wonderful find in the park!
4. Waffles from a Van
Waffles from a van, not the weirdest thing to see in Belgium. But after a day of following comic book murals, finding the bust where a Tsar vomited, and walking through a street of souvenirs dedicated to a peeing boy we had worked up quite the appetite. When we saw a food van in a large square selling waffles with Nutella drizzled on top, we went for it! And let me tell you, we didn’t regret it! These waffles were so good! They filled us up and allowed us to get on the train to Bruges happy with our day in Brussels!
Reader, we love Brussels! It’s definitely one of the European cities that can be strange to walk around. There isn’t a lot of old Brussels left, except for the statues spread across town. It’s a city that often holds important meetings (the EU offices are located here) and is decorated with large office buildings. But Brussels has its own charm to it, so I would encourage everyone to visit and make their own adventure. Every city has a chance of being a new favourite, so why not Brussels?