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About Lithuania » Trakai

Trakai

Some facts: The town is located 28 km west of Vilnius. There are 200 lakes in the region, of which the deepest (46.7 m) is Galvė with its 21 islands. There is Trakai Historical National Park and Aukštadvaris Regional Park founded in the territory of the region. It is the only historical national park not only in Lithuania but also throughout Europe. Trakai is a town and lake resort in Lithuania, a part of Trakai National Park territory and an administrative centre of the region. The town covers 11.52 km² of area and is inhabitated by 6,142 people. The region administered from Trakai covers 1202.74 km² and has 38,200 inhabitants.
History: The first settlements in this area appeared as early as the first millennium A.D. The town, as well as its surroundings, started developing in the 13th century as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania's centre. The town of Trakai was first mentioned in German chronicles in 1337, which is regarded to be the official date of its foundation. When Grand Duke Gediminas finally settled in Vilnius, Senieji Trakai was inherited by his son the Duke Kęstutis. This is the birthplace of the most famous ruler of Lithuania - Vytautas the Great. Despite his capital being Vilnius, Vytautas spent more time in Trakai. In early 15th century he replaced the older, wooden fortress with a stone-built castle. In 1409 the town was granted with Magdeburg Rights, as one of the first settlements in Lithuania. This sparked the prosperity and the village started to rapidly develop into a town. Communities of Karaims, Tatars, Lithuanians, Russians, Jews and Poles lived here side by side. In 1477 the castle on the lake was a meeting place of the king Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (called Kazimieras Jogailaitis by Lithuanians) with the Venetian envoys. After that the castle became sort of a luxurious prison for political prisoners. The castle was refurbished by the king Sigismund I of Poland, who set up his summer residence there. However, after his death in 1548 the castle gradually fell into disrepair. Trakai lost its political significance in the XVI century. It also declined economically. During the war with Russia in the XVII century the town was plundered and burnt, the castles were destroyed. The island castle was rebuilt in the second half of the XX century. There has been a history museum in the castle since 1962. In summer different festivals and concerts take place in the island castle.
Town: Trakai is a town built on water. The town is surrounded by the lakes of Lukos (Bernardinų), Totoriškių, Galvės, Akmenos, Gilušio. There is a number of architectural, cultural and historical monuments in Trakai. The history museum in the castle has been established in 1962. Different festivals and concerts take place in the island castle in summer. It is the only insular castle throughout Eastern Europe. It was built on one of the numerous islands in Lake Galvė. Island castle is one of the most often visited historical-architectural monuments in Lithuania. National events, festivals and concerts take place here. Your choice in Trakai - tourist excursions, resting by the waterside, aboat ride, a yacht or motorbike ride, swimming, fishing, camping or simply a quiet time in a cafe on the bank. In June you may want to see the "Amber oars" International Rowing Regatta. The "Living History" programme projects. Royal Palace Theatre performances, the Prehistory experimental centre with their social events in the Peninsula and Island castles add to and broaden the historical mind, enrich through living pictures and impressions, and it seems that the shadows of past ages come to life again. The Trakai Castle Festival, which is becoming increasingly popular, is taking on the status of a tradition. Its inspiration is the legendary Russian ballerina, a ballet-dancer with both Lithuanian and Russian citizenship, the world-famous Maya Plisetskaya.
What to see: Island castle (XIV - XVI c.). It is the only insular castle throughout Eastern Europe. It was built on one of the numerous islands in Lake Galvė. The castle was built as a defensive fortress. After the Battle of Žalgiris/Grünwald the castle lost its defensive significance. It was turned into a ducal residence. Trakai Island Castle was the death-place of Grand Duke Vytautas. He died here on 27 October 1430. Later the castle served as a prison. In the XVII century the castle was desolated. Island castle is one of the most often visited historical-architectural monuments in Lithuania. It houses a historical museum which has been working here since 1962. National events, festivals and concerts take place here.
Remnants of the Peninsula castle (XIV c.). It is one of the biggest defensive castles in Lithuania. It was built in the XIV century by the Duke Kęstutis. The territory of the castle covered 4 ha and there were 14 towers of different size. There used to stand a wooden castle on the Aukų hill on the territory of the peninsula castle. In 1655 during the Russian-Swedish war the castle was destroyed. There are a few defensive towers left as well as remnants of the defensive wall.
Dominican monastery (XVIII c.). In the XVIII century Dominican monks started building a church on the frontal territory of the Peninsula Castle. They were short of money, however, and the construction of the church was not finished. In the XIX century the southern nave of the church was turned into a monastery and the northern part of the nave was turned into a small church. Presently the building of the Dominican monastery is used by the administration of the Trakai history museum.
Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (XV - XVIII c.). It is the first church of the parish built in 1409 by the Grand Duke Vytautas. Wars and fire more than once were its destroyers. The church was reconstructed in 1717. There is a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a Child in the main altar. This picture is believed to be magic, able to stave off misfortunes. The church of the Blessed Virgin Mary has both gothic and baroque elements.
Užutrakis palace (XIX c.). The settlement of Užutrakis in historical sources was already mentioned in the XIV century. At that time it was called "Algirdas island". It was then controlled by Tartars. In the XIX century Užutrakis was bought by count J.Tiškevičius. On his initiative a neo-renaissance palace was built here. It is surrounded by a park designed by a French landscape architect E.Andre. It is the biggest and the most original park in Lithuania
Church and monastery of Senieji Trakai, mound of Senieji Trakai (Birthplace of Grand Duke Vytautas). Senieji Trakai is the old capital of Lithuania. Legends say that Senieji Trakai was founded by the Duke Gediminas. In the second half of the XIV century there already was a stone palace ruled by the Duke Kęstutis. It was the place where in 1350 Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas was born. In 1405 Vytautas the Great settled here Benedictine monks and built a church for them not far from the place. Buildings of the Benedictine monastery have survived up to these days. In the XIX century a part of the monastery was rebuilt into a neo-gothic church.
Accommodation: Trakai and its surroundings offer a wide range of accommodation to suit every taste and budget: from modern luxury hotels to bed-and-breakfast guesthouses.