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7/50.- Brussels, Manneken Pis

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One of the popular sights in Brussels is Duquenoy's sculpture of a little boy relieving his bladder, called Manneken Pis. There are several anecdotes about the origins of the statue -- one of them that the little boy was found resorting to this natural kind of fire-extinguisher to douse an arsonist's fuse, thus saving part of the town from what might have been a murderous fire at the time when many houses were still built in wood. Most tourists expect a large statue; actually, it is hardly 2 ft tall. But the shops around the statue sell copies in all sizes and substances. Brusselers find it a bit surprising that while the city has so many beautiful things to show, it is this little statue that proves to be one of its major tourist attractions. Manneken Pis has a whole wardrobe of costumes. Famous foreign visitors and heads of state will sometimes thoughtfully offer him a suit of clothes. The costumes are displayed at the Brussels Historical Museum at the Grand Place.

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