The castle was founded during the Danish rule of northern Estonia during the second half of the 13th century, the earliest written record of the castle is from 1277. The castle and surrounding town of Narva became a possession of the Livonian Order in 1346, after the Danish king sold its lands in Northern Estonia.
The castle was in Russian Hands from 1558 to 1581 when the area was conquered by the Swedes. Near the end of the Swedish rule the defence structures of Narva were greatly improved - beginning in 1680s, an outstanding system of bastions, planned by the renowned Swedish military engineer Erik Dahlbergh, was built around the town.
The city and castle were conquered by Russia in 1704 during the Great Northern War. After the war the bastions were renovated and Narva remained in the list of Russian fortifications until 1863, though there was no real military need for it.