Gediminas founded this fortress 28 km west of Vilnius, making it his capital in 1320. Later, Keistut set up his court here. We are talking about Trakai and the historical national park of Lithuania – a beautiful small town surrounded by a lake, where every July the colorful Trakai Festival is held.
The famous ancient capital of Lithuania, where in the Middle Ages the residence of the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Trakai Castle, was located, today has become a “tourist brand” of Lithuania, known far beyond its borders. In addition, due to the proximity to the capital, a visit to Trakai is a great opportunity to get away from the Vilnius landscapes and go on an exciting excursion.
According to simplyyellowpages, most of Trakai is an island about 2 km long, the northern point is between Lake Luka in the east and Lake Totoriškių in the west. Lake Galve washes the fortress from the north side, there are 21 islands in total.
How to get there
You can get to the city by bus or train from Vilnius. For example, a train to Trakai station (Vilniaus gatvė, 5) leaves 7 times a day. Travel time is from 30 to 45 minutes, ticket prices – from 2 EUR. Or take a bus at the bus station, one way fare is about 2.50 EUR.
Trakai is located on the Lithuanian road A16 (part of the pan-European route E28) and is easily accessible by car.
The town is small enough to walk everywhere, but there are also buses to the castle. True, in the end you will have to take a walk, since the fortress is located on an island, which can be reached by a wooden deck bridge. A footbridge leads to a triangular courtyard, to the main tower and a series of galleries, rooms and halls.
Entertainment and attractions in Trakai
Trakai Fortress on the water rises on one of the many islands of Lake Galvė. The castle was built as a defensive citadel, used as a prison, and in the 17th century. was completely running. But now the island castle (the only one in all of Eastern Europe) is one of the most visited historical and architectural monuments of Lithuania. Since 1962, the Historical Museum has been located here, republican events, festivals and concerts have been held here.
On the way to the castle, passing through the town of Trakai itself, you can also see many interesting sights. For example, the Dominican monastery, which began to be built in the 18th century, but due to lack of funds, the construction was never completed (now the administration of the Trakai Historical Museum is located in the building of the monastery). Still – the Church of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Church of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God, residential houses of the Karaites, an ethnographic exhibition of the Karaites, Kenessa – a cult building of the Karaites (“temple” in Karaites) and the pillar of St. Jan Nepomukas, the protector of the local lakes.
There are many souvenir shops in the castle where you can buy a lot of cute handmade trinkets.
Museums of Trakai
Trakai Castle (Kestucio str., 4; +370 528 53 941, 10:00-19:00) is a reconstructed residence of the Lithuanian princes in the 14th century. The castle contains a fine collection of religious art. It also hosts concerts and reenactment games during the summer season. Entrance – 6 EUR.
There are many old wooden houses on the peninsula built by the Karaites (a Turkic people who profess Judaism). About 380 families arrived in Trakai from the Crimea in the 1400s. as bodyguards. Only 12 families (60 Karaites) live in the city today, and there are 280 in total in Lithuania, and they are gradually dying out. You can learn more about their life and history at the Karaite Ethnographic Museum. Address: gatvė Northern Trakai, 22, phone: 528 55 286, entrance: adults – 2 EUR, students and children – 1 EUR, guide – 6 EUR. Opening hours: Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00.