The Old Castle
In 1967, Hrodna Old Castle was declared a historic-archeological park “The Castle Hill”.
The Old Castle was built in 1580s at the request of the king Stephen Báthory by the architect Santi Gucci of Florence on the ruins of the ancient Upper Castle. The crumbling fortifications of the Grand Duke Vitaut era the lower part of the walls, the ruins of the tower as well as the foundations and walls the dukes palace were used during the renovation. The builders paid attention to every detail: the transformation of the castle into royal residence, the perfection of the castle’s defenses. Supposedly, a famous fortifier Rudolfino da Camerino took part in the process.
The Castle was dominated by the renaissance royal palace. In the center of the main façade was the front staircase that led to the first floor to the royal chamber. The façades and pediments were decorated by the two-colour grey-white sgrafitto technique in the shape of floral-geometrical ornament with heraldic motives. The palace was distinguished with its high gable roof, stone-cut parapets and tall chimneys.
During the Russo-Polish war of 17th century the palace suffered a considerable damage. Following the palace’s renovation, its decoration became closer to baroque in style. The palace continued to be used as a provincial royal residence also becoming the place were the general Sejm sessions were held in 1678, 1688, and 1699. After the damage done in the wake of the Great Northern war and the fire of 1735, the palace again underwent reconstruction. The Saxon architect, Carl Friderick Pöppelmann, undertook a radical re-planning of the palace resulting in the outer front staircase turned into an inner one, the gable and attic removed and the smaller windows. After these changes, it was partially given to the royal suite and the household services. Further simplification of the palace’s architecture took place during 19th century when the decorations were removed from the façade and the space over the dining hall was enlarged. Over 120 years, the Old Castle belonged to the Russian War Ministry but in 1924 it was given to the Hrodna Museum.