Trakai Castle – unique medieval legacy
Sometimes, even a whim can turn something into a symbol of the country standing for long centuries. Into the one which majesty and beauty impresses anyone who comes to this country. Trakai Castle enveloped with legends, poems and lake waters, enchants with its extraordinary medieval history. A 300 m wooden bridge leading to the castle, and up to 12 km long channel connecting the lakes, halls and galleries of indescribable beauty, stained glass, frescoes, secret passageways fascinate even those who are indifferent to history. At present the castle is the home to the history museum, often hosting mediaeval tournaments, various concerts and craft days.
A town, born of whim
The lake town is the nickname of Trakai, the historical capital of Lithuania. It boasts not only the pride of the town but of the entire Lithuania – the only castle in Eastern Europe, built on the island.
Do you believe in legends? People say that Trakai was built because of a woman’s whim. Duke’s Kestutis wife Birute did not like living in Old Trakai because there was too little water around, as she had been used in her home in Palanga. Therefore Kęstutis, in order to please his wife, began the construction of a new castle on the peninsula surrounded by lakes in about the middle of the fourteenth century.
Simple history of the Castle
The magnificent Trakai Castle complex built across the island became a residential place for the dukes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL). The Gothic-style castle was comprised of a palace built by medieval masters, and a donjon – a residential tower. These buildings were surrounded by a high, well-designed, solid defensive wall with Galvė lake waters behind it. The castle lost its political power when the capital city of the Grand Duchy was moved from Trakai to Vilnius. However, for a long time it remained a favourite residency in Lithuania of the GDL nobility and their family members. In the sixteenth century the castle was converted into a prison for nobles and noble prisoners of war were detained here. In 1962, the restored castle was passed to the Trakai History Museum.
The Treetops walking path, located in the famous Anykščiai Pinewood, is the only treetop path in Eastern Europe. The path is in the level of the tree crowns and it lasts for 300 meters, evenly going up to 21 meters high. There are 13 stops on the treetop walking path which are assigned to feel the fascination of a famous A. Baranauskas written poem about the Anykščiai Pinewood: to see, to hear, to smell… The stops in the real spaces will help you to get to know and experience the variety of Lithuanian forests, to know and understand the importance of the Anykščiai Pinewood plants around the area. On the 14th stop, which is on the highest point on the tower (the height of the tower is 34 meters), the breath-taking view of the Šventoji river curves opens up, and the tower tops of the St. Matthew’s church, which is the highest in Lithuania, arises over the forest.
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