– photo by Alexander Golovdinov
The southernmost Baltic state – Lithuania is known for its rich history and surreal nature. Its capital Vilnius is a great city to spend some time in, with a well-preserved old town, historic buildings and excellent museums. Vilnius also makes a great base for day-trips to the nearby town of Trakai.
To embrace the historical importance of Trakai, the entire city was gazetted as a national park in 1992. In 2003, the Trakai Historical National Park was added to UNESCO’s Tentative List.
One of the deepest lakes in Lithuania, Lake Galve covers around 20% of the total area of Trakai Historical National Park and is dotted with 21 islands, one of which is the home to the spectacular Trakai Island Castle. The 14th-century fairy-tale castle features Gothic-style architecture and was an important center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania between the 13th- and 18th-century.
Trakai Castle was built in multiple stages, the first of which started in the 14th-century. The original stone castle was constructed when the Grand Duke wanted a more secure location than the existing Peninsula Castle. Soon after he moved into the newly built castle with his family, it was attacked and the duke was killed.
By the 16th-century, Trakai Castle had lost the royal residences and military and was turned into a prison. In the mid-17th-century, the castle was heavily damaged by invaders which led to the castle falling into disrepair.
Most of the castle was restored to its 15th-century glory in 1961 and today, the castle is the biggest attraction in Trakai. You can visit the adjacent museum to learn more about the castle and its fascinating history.
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