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main destination guide sights trakai castle


SIGHTS IN VILNIUS

Trakai Castle

    Trakai, the ancient capital of Lithuania, is 30 km from Vilnius. The unique landscape of Trakai, "the town of lakes" as it often called, is comprised of numerous picturesque lakes and hills. The main landmark of Tarkai is the famous insular Trakai Castle.
    In the 14 the century, on the shore of the Lake Galve the first castle was erected and the construction of the second had been started. The insular castle was within the firing range from the first one. Grand Duke Vytautas finished the construction and turned the castle into an unassailable fortress which has never been conquered by the enemies. When the capital was moved to Vilnius, Trakai lost its leading role in the political life of the country but retained its importance as the residence of the Dukes and a significant administrative, political and economical center of Lithuania. At this time both the town and the castle prospered. Luxurious feasts were held for the foreign ambassadors and important guests from all over Europe. By the end of 16th century, the town had gradually lost its former political importance. It was finally outgrown by Vilnius. Remoteness from the main trade routes led to an economical decline. Soon the town became a kind of a place of exile for disagreeable noblemen and the castle turned into a political prison.
    The Trakai Castle is an excellent example of Gothic architecture. The center of the architectural ensemble of the castle is the Duke's palace, surrounded by the thick defensive wall and protected by the fore-castle. The staterooms of the palace are decorated with stained-glass and mural paintings, representing the scenes of the life of Grand Duke and his family. The living quartets were connected by wooden galleries. There was a secrete passage, leading from the duke's bedroom to the treasury hall and to the courtyard. The castle was equipped with the unique for that time system of forced-air heating: the hot air went up pipes and warmed the cold stonewalls. According to the Lithuanian chronicles, fabulous treasures were kept in the castle. Even the saddles on thoroughbred horses were made of gold. Some of the saddles were presented to Russian prince Vasiliy I.
    The first attempts to restore practically ruined Trakai castle were made at the end of the 19th century. The main restoration works were conducted during the time of the soviet occupation. From 1962 the castle houses the Trakai History Museum.



Address: Kestucio St., 4
Phone: 370-5-2858241, 370-5-2858240, 370-5-2858246