Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 58, Brussels,Belgium

We are now in Brussels, Belgium....oh, there is the Eiffel Tower of Brussels, the ATOMIUM

Built in 1958, it is the visual representation of the concept of an "atom".
It symbolizes an elementary iron crystal with its 9 atoms and magnifi ed 150 billion times. It honored the metal and iron industry and the belief in the atomic power.
The monument is coated with aluminum, weighs 2.400 tons and is 102 meters high. Each sphere has a diameter of 18 meters. Wow, pretty impressive, huh?

New York has the Statue of Liberty, and Brussels has the ...... Manneken Pis. Oh, this statue of a little boy in a somewhat compromising position is just so cute!!

Nobody actually knows why the manneken is there. He is believed to be nothing more than a decoration on top of a fountain, where people in the Middle-Ages came to get fresh water.

There are many legends about the Manneken. According to one of them a little boy had watered against the door of a witch who lived where the fountain now stands. The witch was so angry that she turned the little boy into a statue!

Another legend says that a man had lost his little son. He found the child after two days near the place where now the fountain of manneken-pis can be seen. When the father spotted his child, the latter was peeing. As a token of gratitude the father had the fountain with a statue of a peeing boy constructed.

The manneken-pis is very often dressed. At the moment he has a wardrobe of more than 600 costumes, among the more special costumes are for instance : an Elvis Presley outfit and a Mickey Mouse costume.

He received his first costume on May the 1st 1698...and has continued to do so......and to thank people for his gifts, the manneken offers the people of such groups beer which comes directly from a beer barrel attached to the statue.
Just too adorable!

We are now heading for the Grand Place only a few hundred meters away....

"One of the most beautiful town squares in Europe, if not in the world",Archduchess Isabella, daughter of Filip II of Spain wrote about the square during her visit to Brussels on September the 5th 1599:" Never have I seen something so beautiful and exquisite as the town square
of the city where the town hall rises up into the sky. The decoration of the houses is most remarkable ".

Writers like Victor Hugo and Baudelaire were also struck by the charm of the
market square with its beautiful set of Guild houses dominated by the Town
hall and the King's house.

We have walked around admiring the magnificent buildings in the square and have now sat down to a good Belgian beer, chips, and mussels, and of course, famous Belgian chocolate....

whilst enjoying a concert going on in the square.

The Grand Place ( a UNESCO world heritage site) is well known for its large "flower carpet".
Sadly this magnificent display of begonias is arranged on the square every two years for a few days in the middle of August....so we will have to wait for next year .......

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