The Zinneke statue represents one of the stray dogs that used to roam by the Zenne River and whose mongrel nature made them a symbol of Brussels. The biannual Zinneke Parade now celebrates the diversity of a city that has official residents from 181 countries in the world.
Brussels – Been There

Why is Brussels so obsessed with urine?

Photo by Sergi Reboredo

Brussels – Been There Why is Brussels so obsessed with urine?

Maybe it is the high consumption of beer that fuels the seeming obsession with urine in Brussels.

Sergi Reboredo
Sergi Reboredo Travel Photographer

Besides the famous Manneken Pis, Brussels also has a bronze dog called Zinneke, with his hind leg raised in that characteristic canine pose. The sculpture pays tribute to the strays that once roamed around the Little Zenne River and the name “Zinneke” has been adopted as a nickname for the “mongrel” citizens of Brussels, a city with official residents from 181 countries.

The name sums up a spirit of being proud of an assorted mix of cultures and roots in a time when politicians promote differences and nationalism keeps rearing its head. “Self-mockery and simplicity are characteristics of the Belgian personality and make us different,” says Pierre Massart, who works for the city’s tourism office. “Brussels is certainly one of the most cosmopolitan city on earth and every nationality can feel at home here. This lack of nationalism enables everybody to feel part of it.”

The cultural diversity of the city is celebrated every two years in the Zinneke Parade, which is proud of being “100 per cent human”, banning motorized vehicles or amplified music. “The Zinneke is run by Zinnodes, a group of around 100 people headed by an artist who works on the central theme,” says Jens Stevens, a theatrical set builder who has now taken part in three of them.

“Anyone is welcome to join and the months of working together with people from all walks of life and cultures, learning skills from painting to Oriental dance, is as much the point as the actual parade.”

www.zinneke.org

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About 2,000 people take part in the Zinneke Parade, from which electric amplification and motorized vehicles are banned. The parade is held every two years but is merely the visible end of a process that encourages long-term community involvement. Photo by Julien Warnand / Alamy

Julien Warnand

Julien Warnand

Agency
Alamy

About 2,000 people take part in the Zinneke Parade, from which electric amplification and motorized vehicles are banned. The parade is held every two years but is merely the visible end of a process that encourages long-term community involvement.

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