The Old Grodno Castle originated in the 11th century as the seat of a dynasty of Black Ruthenian rulers, descended from a younger son of Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev.
The 13th-century keep of the castle belonged to a type of Belarusian defensive tower represented by the Tower of Kamyanyets. Vytautas the Great added five Brick Gothic towers in 1391–98, transforming the castle into one of his main residences. Casimir IV Jagiellon also favoured Hrodna over Lithuania's official capital. It was there that the Polish Crown was offered to him, and it was there that he died in 1492.
The next notable tenant of the castle was Stephen Báthory who envisaged Hrodna as the capital of his vast empire in Eastern Europe.