LivingTravelTrakai Castle - Lithuania's famous medieval fortress

Trakai Castle – Lithuania's famous medieval fortress

Trakai and Trakai Castle are important to the history of Lithuania. Associated with Grand Duke Gediminas, a medieval Lithuanian hero, Trakai rose to prominence before the Grand Duchy of Lithuania joined Poland, forming the Polish-Lithuanian Community. The area began to develop in the 1400s with its castle at the center of the action, although the area saw human dwellings long before these permanent structures were built. “Trakai” refers to the “clearing” in which the area appears.

Trakai is popular not only for its castle. The beautiful natural landscape of the area, where the lakes are located, is popular with Lithuanians and travelers from abroad throughout the year. Although it is the most visited during the summer, many recommend visiting it in the deepest winter, when the lakes freeze and the snow envelops nature and the castle alike in pristine whiteness.

Two castles, one Lithuanian museum

Trakai Castle is located in Trakai, about 20 km from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, making it an excellent day trip. The Trakai Castle Museum is located in two castles: one on an island in the middle of a lake and one on the shore. There is actually a third castle associated with Trakai, but this structure is in disrepair and is not part of the museum complex. However, you can see its ruins while exploring the lake area.

Exhibitions in the castle museum

Because Trakai Castle has been renovated, it offers a fitting home for some of Lithuania’s most interesting archaeological artifacts, religious objects, coins, and finds preserved from excavation of the castle grounds.

Karaim Community

The Karaims, or Karaites as they are known locally, of Trakai are an ethnic group that settled here in the 14th century. This Turkish-speaking community also follows its own religion, which derives from Judaism. Originally from the Crimea, this community preserves aspects of the way of life that their ancestors brought with them when they resettled in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Visitors can enjoy one of those: kibinai, dumplings stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables, can be ordered at select Trakai restaurants.

Those in the know say that only the kibinai found in Trakai are real and that those that can be ordered in Vilnius cannot hold a candle to those that are made to order in Trakai. Also, see a small exhibition dedicated to the Karaites in the castle museum.

Visitor Information

The Trakai Castle Museum requires an entrance fee, and museum staff can guide visitors in the direction the exhibits were to be viewed, prohibiting backtracking. The use of a chamber inside the castle also requires a small fee. The official website of the Trakai Castle Museum can be accessed in English and Lithuanian.

Exploring the city of Trakai

Trakai was a medieval capital of Lithuania, and it still retains its historical charm. Visitors to Trakai can enjoy one of the city’s festivals, including recognition of its history. Because Trakai was built in the middle of three lakes, you can enjoy walks along the water and picnics, as well as recreational activities on the water.

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