Politically Bruges was run from de Brug. The economical trade however was done from the market square. The city was the trade city for the whole region. The market square was and still is the beating heart of the city.
Till the 18th-century ships came through the canal to the city square and moored at the East side of it. At the Waterhalle the ships were docked and handled. In 1787 the canal was covered and the Waterhalle had to make way for three neogothic houses. The houses have the typical Flemish facades and were used as guild houses.
Central on the square is the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, the two leaders of the resistance against the French occupation. They were also responsible for the battle of the "gulden sporen slag" and defeated the French troops on July 11, 1302, proofing the strong power of the Flemish people.