In the small town of Trakai, located south-west of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius and is a short coach/train journey away holds a hidden gem in this part of the world. The huge Lake Galve in this area has twenty one small islands but one island stands out more than the others and it’s the island which lies Trakai Castle. With its surrounding scenery, beautiful architecture and enchanting history, this place is a great day trip whilst on a visit to Vilnius.
The walk from the train/bus station to the castle is over ten minutes long but a simple walk and is signposted. Once the road runs alongside the lake shores then the entrance for the island with the castle can be spotted. The island is connected by a wooden footbridge and is the ideal place to get a photo in front of the main gates.
Trakai Castle started to be built the fourteenth century on the demands of the ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Kęstutis, but unfortunately he didn’t get to see the completed work, however his successor did, his son Vytautas the Great. However when it was completed, the castle wasn’t needed for military or to defend so eventually was turned into a residential palace. Many foreign important people came to stay here due to the beautiful location, however after this golden period, the demise came even quicker during the battles with the Muscovy in the 1650s. The castle was destroyed and left abandoned. It took a long time to get the castle rebuilt and this was done during the Soviet Union occupation (this seems strange as it was Muscovy from present day Russia who destroyed it and it was the Soviet Union which is now the Russian Federation who rebuilt it…the irony!).
Inside the main gates (and after paying the entrance fee) I saw the impressive courtyard to which many rooms can be accessed and contain historical objects from bygone years such as weaponry, tankards, tiles and coins, mainly dating back from the 16th century. There is actually quite a lot to view and despite the fact I usually get bored with museums, I found this one quite interesting. There are displays in English if you can’t understand Lithuanian.
The most impressive part of the castle is the walk up the staircase to the Ducal Palace’s keep (30 meters high or 100 feet) which served as the residence of the Grand Duke when Trakai held the seat of power in this region before Vilnius came along and gave Trakai a good kick up the ass to take the power. Here good views from the other side of the lake are to be had.
The small town of Trakai itself doesn’t have much to offer however in the height of the ‘warm’ season, there are plenty of outdoor street stalls which have a fantastic range of meats, vegetables and drinks (mainly beer), for visitors to fill up before doing more walking. However another thing I did whilst here was to hire a pedal boat and go out onto the lake and see the Trakai Castle from all sides. The best decision I have made on my two trips to this beautiful area. If visitors have time, there is the Peninsula Castle just a few kilometers south of Trakai Castle which is a little bit older and is also located by the lakeside.
Please note that while I was not working with the castle on this page and that my trip to Trakai was all paid for by myself. I love Trakai and nearby Vilnius so much and want to show you this island beauty through my eyes and give you the best advice possible. My reviews and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value my readers too much to lie to you. My blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!