In the past this area was situated behind the battlements of the Old Town. An important change appeared in 1876-1884. In the north part of the future square there was constructed a monumental, neo-renaissance building no.75 – Rudolfinum, according to design by arch. Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz, completed with plastic decoration and works of art by the leading artist of that time. Ceremonious opening was held on 7th February 1885. Now the building is headquarters of Czech philharmonic orchestra and musical education. Almost at the same time in the south there was constructed a building of Academy of Fine Arts no. 80, in a neo-renaissance style, according to design by arch. František Schmoranz and Jan Machytka. On the facade there are copies of antique sculptures. Since 1902 there was Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, nowadays it is called university. The eastern side of the square is closed by Faculty of Arts of the Charles University no.1, which has been already standing in the cadastre of Josefov. Construction according to design by arch. Josef Sakař from 1928-1929 was done in neo-classical style.

Part of the square is formed by road, in the middle there is green vegetation with entrances into the underground garages. Since 2000 there has been standing a memorial to composer Antonín Dvořák. Bronze sculpture of the Master is 3 m high and it weighs 300 kg. It is work of sculptor Jan Wagner, made according to the model of his father Josef Wagner.

At first, the square was bearing a name after empress Zita, and then until 1942 name of Bedřich Smetana. During the Nazi occupation it was Mozartplatz and in 1945-1952 it was Smetanovo again. Then the name was changed to the Square of Krasnoarmějců, and nowadays it is the Square of Jan Palach (1948-1969) in memory of the student, who had burnt himself to death as a protest to continuing occupation by the Warsaw Pact armies. The young patriot is reminded by a memorial tablet with copy of his death mask by sculptor Olbram Zoubek, placed on the building of Faculty of Arts, where he had studied.