Belgian Statues: A Journey Through Belgium’s Sculptural Masterpieces

Belgium’s statues honor its warriors, national heroes, and artistic geniuses. They portray the nation’s rich history and range from the amusing  Manneken Pis and Jeanneke Pis to tributes to famous artists like Peter Paul Rubens and Jan van Eyck.

These masterpieces maintain Belgium’s heritage and celebrate its vibrant energy and unique character and are worthy of a visit as you travel through its streets.

Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis in Brussels
Manneken Pis in Brussels

Arguably the most well-known statue in Belgium, Manneken Pis can be found right in Brussels. Created early in the 17th century by Hieronymus Duquesnoy the Elder, it humorously depicts a small boy urinating into a fountain.

Not only is this tiny statue famous but it is also dressed up in a variety of costumes at different times of the year. So, be sure to check it out a few times if you are in the area.

Statue of Godfrey of Bouillon

Located in the Royal Square in Brussels, this equestrian statue commemorates the famous medieval knight, Godfrey of Bouillon. He is said to have played a crucial role in the First Crusade, after selling his land and gathering thousands of knights to fight in the Crusade. The sculpture was created by Eugène Simonis in 1848 and commemorates his participation in the crusade, which has since become something of a legend.

Jeanneke Pis

Jeanneke Pis in Brussels
Jeanneke Pis in Brussels

Created by Denis Adrien Debouvrie in 1987, this is the answer to Manneken Pis. Jeanneke Pis is a small limestone statue that shows a girl squatting and peeing. It is also in Brussels, this time in a small alleyway. So, if you liked Manneken Pis, find your way here as well.

Zinneke Pis (Het Zinneke)

Zinneke Pis in Brussels
Zinneke Pis in Brussels – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Continuing with the peeing statue theme is Zinneke Pis, also in Brussels. This time it was created in bronze of a urinating dog by artist Tom Frantzen and erected in 1998.

Brabo Fountain (Brabo Monument)

Brabo Fountain in Grote Markt Antwerp
Brabo Fountain in Grote Markt Antwerp

Moving to Antwerp, the Brabo monument statue atop the Brabo fountain is a symbol of Antwerp itself. It sits in the center of Grote Markt, right in the heart of Antwerp. There is quite a story behind the figure, so it is worth going a little bit deeper.

Brabo apparently slew Druon Antigoon, a giant who had demanded money from anyone wishing to cross the bridge over the Scheldt River. If they could not pay, he hacked off their hand and threw it in the river. Brabo took on the giant and removed his hand, hurling it also into the river. This is the moment you see portrayed in the statue.

Peter Paul Rubens Statue

Peter Paul Rubens Statue in Groenplaats, Antwerp
Peter Paul Rubens Statue in Groenplaats, Antwerp

Another statue worth seeing in the heart of Antwerp is that of Paul Rubens in Antwerp’s Groenplaats. He is one of the most influential Baroque painters and definitely deserves a statue in his hometown. The sculpture was created by Willem Geefs in 1840 and erected in the square some three years later in honor of this famous Belgian artist.

Pieter Appelmans Monument

Pieter Appelmans Monument outside Antwerp Cathedral
Pieter Appelmans Monument outside Antwerp Cathedral

On the right-hand side of the entrance to the Antwerp Cathedral is the monument to Pieter Appelmans. He was one of the architects of the cathedral. He completed the work after the passing of his late father, Jans Appelmans.

The statue depicts Pieter Appelmans along with stone masons and builders and was created by Belgian sculptor Jef Lambeaux.

Nello & Patrasche

Nello & Patrasche outside the Antwerp Cathedral
Nello & Patrasche outside the Antwerp Cathedral

Right in front of the Antwerp Cathedral is another heartwarming statue that pays homage to the main characters from the 19th-century novel “A Dog of Flanders” by British author Marie Louise de la Ramée (Ouida). Interestingly the novel is popular in Japan and tells the story of Nello, a poor orphan boy, and Patrasche, his loyal dog.

The Cyclist

The Cyclist - Jean-Pierre Monseré
The Cyclist – Jean-Pierre Monseré – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The Cyclist is a bronze statue in Roeselare, honoring the champion Belgian cyclist Jean-Pierre Monseré. He was killed by an oncoming car during a race in 1971 and this statue was created by artist Godfried Vanneste to commemorate this. He is said to have been a brilliant all-around cyclist who could have even rivaled Eddy Merckx, but unfortunately, we will never know if that was true.

Ambiorix Statue

Ambiorix Statue in Tongeren
Ambiorix Statue in Tongeren – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Located in the city of Tongeren, the Ambiorix Statue was created by Jules Bertin in 1866 to honor a Belgian national hero. He is said to have been a legendary leader of the Eburones tribe who fought against Julius Caesar’s Roman legions.

Colonne du Congrès

Colonne du Congrès in Brussels Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The Congress Column in Brussels, designed by Joseph Poelaert, commemorates the creation of the Belgian constitution in 1831. The column is topped by a statue of King Leopold I, Belgium’s first king, and was created by Jean Geefs.

The Statue of Jan Van Eyck

The statue of Jan Van Eyck in Bruges
The statue of Jan Van Eyck in Bruges – image courtesy of Wikimedia

The statue of Jan Van Eyck is found in the heart of Bruges in the namesake Jan Van Eyck Square. It was created by Belgian sculptor Hendrik Pickery and unveiled in 1878.

The bronze statue shows a standing figure of van Eyck holding a paintbrush and a palette, with his gaze directed downwards, contemplating his next stroke. It is a celebration of Van Eyck’s lasting impact on the art world and his strong ties with the famous city of Bruges

Frequently Asked `Questions

What is Belgium’s most famous statue?

The most famous statue in Belgium is Manneken Pis. It is a small statue of a boy peeing into a fountain and has existed in Brussels since the 17th century and continues to be popular today.

What is the peeing boy statue in Belgium?

The peeing boy statue in Belgium is called Manneken Pis, found in the capital, Brussels. The statue was created in the 17th century by Hieronymus Duquesnoy the Elder.

What is the famous statue in Bruges?

The most famous statue in Bruges is a marble statue called The Madonna of Bruges, created by none other than Michelangelo. It is a depiction of Mary and Jesus and can be found inside the Church of Our Lady.

Why was King Leopold statue removed?

The statue of King Leopold II was removed after a number of acts of vandalism in 2018, 2019 and again in 2020. Activists targeted the statue because of the cruel king’s record during Belgium’s colonial rule of some African countries during the 19th century.

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