The massive complex of the Mercato Vecchio at Piazza Erbe symbolizes the commercial importance of Verona. Ordered by Alberto I della Scala in 1301, it housed the associations of artisans and merchants. In the communal era, along with the nobility and the clergy, merchants and artisans occupied a major role in urban life. And the Scala was the first Signoria in Italy that owed its riches to merchant activities, that is why they wanted to build a place to promote economic development. In this building, characterised by a square plan and a central courtyard, the associations used to meet to discuss administrative issues, solve economic controversies and set trade laws and statutes.
The building was renovated several times during the Austrian period until, in 1874, the government handed over to the Municipality certain parts of the palace, provided it had been restored. The Municipality removed any additional parts to bring it back to its original Medieval structure with the portico supported by columns and swallow-tail crenellations. It has been for a long time the seat of the Comune, the Judicial Offices, the Prefettura and the Corte d’Assise.