Sometimes, even a whim can turn something into a symbol of the country standing for long centuries. Into the one which majesty and beauty impresses anyone who comes to this country. Trakai castle enveloped with legends, poems and lake waters, enchants with its extraordinary medieval history.
A town, born of whim
The lake town is the nickname of Trakai, the historical capital of Lithuania. It boasts not only the pride of the town but of the entire Lithuania – the only castle in Eastern Europe, built on the island.
Do you believe in legends? People say that Trakai was built because of a woman's whim. Duke’s Kestutis wife Birute did not like living in Old Trakai because there was too little water around, as she had been used in her home in Palanga. Therefore Kęstutis, in order to please his wife, began the construction of a new castle on the peninsula surrounded by lakes in about the middle of the fourteenth century.
Simple history of the castle
The magnificent Trakai castle complex built across the island became a residential place for the dukes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL). The Gothic-style castle was comprised of a palace built by medieval masters, and a donjon – a residential tower. These buildings were surrounded by a high, well-designed, solid defensive wall with Galvė lake waters behind it. The castle lost its political power when the capital city of the Grand Duchy was moved from Trakai to Vilnius. However, for a long time it remained a favourite residency in Lithuania of the GDL nobility and their family members. In the sixteenth century the castle was converted into a prison for nobles and noble prisoners of war were detained here. In 1962, the restored the castle was passed to the Trakai History Museum.
For mystery lovers and seekers
Those who are interested in history and like mysterious locations, should come to Trakai. Trakai Castle is one of the most visited tourist sites in Lithuania. A 300 m wooden bridge leading to the castle, and up to 12 km long channel connecting the lakes, halls and galleries of indescribable beauty, stained glass, frescoes, secret passageways fascinate even those who are indifferent to history. At present the castle is the home to the history museum, often hosting mediaeval tournaments, various concerts and craft days.
What else to see?
In the Middle Ages Trakai was a multicultural colony. So far, Karaites consider Trakai their homeland. Be sure to try their meals, mostly a variety of kybyns. Each of you will choose according to your taste and lick your fingers.
Visit the amazing Užutrakis manor with a park created in the end of the nineteenth century by the famous French landscape architect and botanist Eduard Francois Andre. Užutrakis manor ensemble was built by Tiškevičiai in 1896-1902. The Italian neoclassical style palace was built by a Polish architect Joseph Hus. The palace was furnished in the style of the French King Louis XVI who adored luxury. The palace park is decorated with more than 20 ponds, and all of them along with the beautiful palace are surrounded by lakes Galve and Skaistis.
Trakai surrounding lakes invite you for swimming, yachting, water biking, boating, and you can also visit wetlands located near Trakai. If there is a desire you can ascend above the ground from Paluknis airfield located 30 km away from Trakai – you can take an entertainment flight or fly even further, to the Baltic Sea.