The square as it now exists was created during the 19th century by the construction of the theater and of the Stambol gate in the late 1860s. The gate was constructed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire during their occupation of Serbia, and was meant to commemorate the atrocities committed by the invading Turks upon the Serbian Christians. However, the gate was destroyed during the Serbian uprising, leaving only the theater as the hub of the town square, although the famous Prince Michael statue was erected there during the 1880s. The square was simply called “Theater Square” until the Soviet occupation of 1945.
Serbians had begun to build up the square during the early 20th century as part of an attempt to make it an ethnic and cultural center for all Serbians, however it was destroyed by the invading Germans and the subsequent invasion by the Soviets. It originally served as a resting place for the many Soviet soldiers who died removing the German Army from Belgrade, however they were later relocated to their own cemetery.