("Market Square") of Bruges is located in the heart of the city and covers an area of about 1 hectare. Some historical highlights around the square include the 12th-century belfry and the West Flanders Provincial Court (originally the Waterhall, which in 1787 was demolished and replaced by a classicist building that from 1850 served as provincial court and after a fire in 1878 was rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style in 1887. In the center of the market stands the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck.
In 1995 the market was completely renovated. Parking in the square was removed and the area became mostly traffic-free, thus being more celebration friendly. The renovated market was reopened in 1996 with a concert by Helmut Lotti.
is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country, and the seventh largest city of the country by population.
The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares (138.4 sq km; 53.44 sq miles), including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge (from Brugge aan zee, meaning "Bruges by the Sea"). The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval in shape and about 430 hectares in size. The city’s total population is 117,073 (1 January 2008), of whom around 20,000 live in the city centre. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km2 (238 sq mi) and has a total of 255,844 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008.
Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam and St Petersburg, it is sometimes referred to as the Venice of the North. Bruges has a significant economic importance, thanks to its port, and was once one of the world’s chief commercial cities. Bruges is well known as the seat of the College of Europe, a university institute for European studies.