While I Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, I really wanted to visit the town of Trakai. I didn’t really know much about it, but I’d seen a photograph like this one. Since it was a photo that prompted me to go, it had to be a Foto Friday one day and today is the day.
The photo is of Trakai Island Castle, which is located on one of Lake Galvė’s 21 islands. It was constructed in the 14th-15th century and held great strategic importance to protect Trakai and Vilnius. It seems that completing the castle wasn’t easy for two reasons. Firstly, it was under continued attacks by the Teutonic Knights who were on a religious crusade to turn Lithuania from a pagan state to a catholic one. Secondly, because of a power struggle that was going on between Jogaila and Vytautass, the sons of two brothers who were jointly the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This was a time of massive change and historical significance as they moved from Paganism to Catholicism and to a union with Poland, but it was fraught with lies, deceit, and betrayal.
Ironically, not long after the castle was completed, it was no longer needed to protect Trakai and Vilnius, so it became a residential property and later on a prison. Much of the castle was destroyed in the 17th century and then it fell into disrepair. It wasn’t until 1935 that work began on the castle to restore it to it’s former glory.
If you are in Vilnius and want to visit Trakai, it’s only about 17 miles away. You have a couple of options: You can take a tour from Vilnius to Trakai with one of two tour bus companies that depart from Cathedral Square, or you can do it independently. Having taken one of the tours, I would say, save your money and get a bus or train instead. There really is no need to do it as a tour. You’d be far better to get there using public transport from Vilnius. Trakai is very small, so it’s easy enough to find your way to the castle. Apart from the money you will save by going independently, you will be in control of the time you go and return rather than being stuck with set times on a tour.
You can see the location of Vilnius and Trakai on the map below.
Have your say
Have you been to Trakai? If so, how did you get there – by public transport or on a tour? If not, how would you do it?