The Group traces its origins to the summit meetings of leaders from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland held in the Hungarian castle-town of Visegrád on 15 February 1991. Visegrád was chosen as the location for the 1991 meeting as an intentional allusion to the medieval Congress of Visegrád in 1335 between John I of Bohemia, Charles I of Hungary and Casimir III of Poland.
After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia became independent members of the group, thus increasing the number of members from three to four. All four members of the Visegrád Group joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.
The Group's name in the languages of the four countries is Visegrádská čtyřka or Visegrádská skupina (Czech); Visegrádi Együttműködés or Visegrádi négyek (Hungarian); Grupa Wyszehradzka (Polish); and Vyšehradská Skupina or Vyšehradská štvorka (Slovak).
The name of the Group is derived, and the place of meeting selected, from a meeting of the Bohemian (Czech), Polish, and Hungarian rulers in Visegrád in 1335. Charles I of Hungary, Casimir III of Poland, and John of Bohemia agreed to create new commercial routes to bypass the staple port Vienna and obtain easier access to other European markets. The recognition of Czech sovereignty over the Duchy of Silesia was also confirmed. A second meeting took place in 1339, where it was decided that after the death of Casimir III of Poland, the son of Charles I of Hungary, Louis I of Hungary, would become King of Poland provided that Casimir did not have a son.
The countries' extensive interactions during history, including various territories being ruled by the Habsburg Empire (eventually known as Austria-Hungary) and its successors at various times from the 1500's all the way to World War I. Most recently, during the Cold War, the four countries were satellite states of the Soviet Union as the Polish People's Republic, the Hungarian People's Republic and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. The year 1989 marks the Fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. By 1990, the three Communist People's Republics ended and in December, 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed. In between, the Visegrád Group was established on 15 February 1991.