Brussels and Geraardsbergen both have a Manneken Pis but that of Geraardsbergen is the oldest by far. In fact, by 160 years to be exact. In other words, when the Manneken of Brussels started to pee, ours had already filled the entire Dender! If you think we are kidding, we have the city accounts to prove our point.
The story of Manneken Pis begins in 1452. Not such a good year for Geraardsbergen, because that year, hordes of raging people from Ghent flattened the city. The fountains on the marketplace were destroyed in the process. The Ghent barbarians even stole a gracefully sculpted lion's head, which served as a fountain spout. The locals were insulted and furious, but remained civilized. What they did is they immediately sent Hendrik Joos to Ghent, who politely asked their lion's head back. Henrys request was in vain. Three years later, in 1455, the city magistrate of Geraardsbergen got the luminous idea to order a 'lattoenen mannekin', or a boy in brass, from the Brussels fountain master Jan Van Der Schelden. After all, the locals wanted to return to normal and renew their city after the devastation of 1452.
The first Manneken Pis that was delivered turned out to be a few sizes too big for the plinth, so a smaller one was ordered. After a set of obstacles, that statue finally appeared in the spring of 1459: Manneken Pis of Geraardsbergen was born, weighing in at 45.5 pounds.
Manneken Pis Museum
By 2017, the Geraardsbergen Manneken Pis had collected a staggering 307 outfits. Since 2016, these can be admired in the Manneken Pis Museum (Info Office Visit Geraardsbergen, Markt z/n).
A brotherhood was founded around Geraardsbergens Manneken Pis. The Brotherhood of Manneken Pis is celebrated annually on the 1st Sunday of June followed by the golden Manneken-Pis throw.