The history of the square cannot be separated from the Palaces around it. On the west side of via Emilia°°, where once the gateway to Reggio Emilia stood , the wide square was the idea of Duke Francesco III, in the middle of the XVIII century. The extraordinary church of Sant’Agostino°°, formerly the Estense Pantheon, was therefore linked up to the Palazzo dei Musei°° in the years 1761-71. On the other side of the square, Palace of Sant’Agostino° building works began in 1753.
The side of the square which is now open was occupied until the first years of the XX century by an imposing old palace, built over one of the most beautiful gateways to the city.
In the centre of the square a equestrian monument representing Francesco III once stood: during the Napoleonic era a fanatic, Giovan Battista Fornieri, destroyed it with a hammer. The stairs of the old Chamber of Commerce and the base for the statue of the Blessed Virgin in the town hall were built using the marble from the monument.