In Parc de Bruxelles, across from the Royal Palace in Brussels, there are two odd, 8-meter pits on either side of the path. Walk over to the pit on the left hand side, but know that this isn’t the best part of town; it apparently has been the site of prostitution for centuries. So why does it have a commemorative statue dedicated to Peter the Great? This is where the great Tsar once ralphed.
The story goes that on April 16, 1717, Tsar Peter Alexeyevich wasn’t feeling so well after a night of revelry. Around 3 PM, while being shown about town, the great leader sat down on the edge of a fountain and puked. Even the best of us have our bad days.
In the 1800s, previous structures were razed to make room for the Parc de Bruxelles (also known as Le Bassin Vert, or the Green Basin). The two natural pits in the earth were large enough that the designing committee elected to leave them as is rather than filling them in. Taking a cue from their Western neighbors, they designed a fashionable English garden, complete with a sculpture park.
In 1856 Prince Demidoff donated a statue to commemorate Peter the Great’s visit to Brussels, and included a small inscription on a basin noting the details of the incident in botched Latin: “INSIDENS MARCINI FONTIS AQUAM ILLUS NOBILTAVIT LIBATO VINO,” which translates to, “As he sat on the edge of this fountain, he enobled its waters with the wine of his libations.”
The basin and its inscription are no longer there, as the statue has been vandalized repeatedly over the past century and a half. Those in the know remember though: this is the spot where the Tsar lost his lunch.
Know Before You Go
The closest Metro station is Parc, just a short walk away.