Market Square in Bruges, Belgium, with statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter De Coninck in front of old Guild Houses

Activities in Market Square in Bruges, Belgium may have changed over the centuries, but one thing hasn’t. It’s still the commercial and cultural center of the city. Since the year 958, Market (Markt in Flemish) Square has been the the scene of medieval festivals, tournaments, and even executions. Weekly markets have been held here since 985. Though the executions have (thankfully) disappeared, the square still hosts a market every Wednesday, with dozens of stalls that offer fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade baked goods, and arts and crafts items.

The impressive statue in the center of Market Square in Bruges is of Jan Breydel and Pieter De Coninck, who in the early 14th century fought French troops in an effort to preserve the Flemish identity. Breydel and De Coninck were heads of two of the most powerful guild houses, the butchers and the weavers, thus it is fitting that they stand in front of a row of restored guild houses. Today Market Square in Bruges welcomes between three and four million tourists, who flock to the plaza to shop and eat at its many restaurants. Also popular with tourists are visits to the historic Belfry and Cloth Hall, which anchor other ends of the square.