Theme Week Lithuania – Trakai

Tuesday, 21 June 2022 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  10 minutes

Užutrakis Manor © Karmen media/cc-by-sa-3.0

Užutrakis Manor © Karmen media/cc-by-sa-3.0

Trakai is a historic city and lake resort in Lithuania. It lies 28 kilometres (17 miles) west of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Because of its proximity to Vilnius, Trakai is a popular tourist destination. Trakai is the administrative centre of Trakai district municipality. The town covers 497.1 square kilometres (191.9 square miles) of area and, according to 2007 estimates, is inhabited by 5,357 people. A notable feature of Trakai is that the town was built and preserved by people of different nationalities. Historically, communities of Karaims, Tatars, Lithuanians, Russians, Jews and Poles lived here.

There are 200 lakes in the region, of which the deepest (46.7 m) is Galvė with its 21 islands. Galvė covers an area of 3.88 km², Vilkokšnis lake – 3.37 km², the lake of Skaistis – 2.96 km². There are Trakai Historical National Park and Aukštadvaris Regional Park founded in the territory of the region. Trakai Historical National Park was founded on 23 April 1991 to preserve Trakai as a centre of Lithuanian statehood as well as the park’s authentic nature. The territory of the park covers 82 km², 34 km² of which are covered by forests, and 130 km² are covered by lakes. Aukštadvaris Regional Park was founded in 1992 to preserve the valuable landscapes of Verknė and Strėva upper reaches. The area of the park is 153.5 km², most of which is covered by forests. There are 72 lakes here, the biggest of which is Vilkokšnis. Trakai is a town built on water. The town is surrounded by the lakes of Luka (Bernardinai), Totoriškės, Galvė, Akmena, Gilušis. There are a number of architectural, cultural and historical monuments in Trakai. The history museum in the castle was established in 1962. Festivals and concerts take place in the island castle in summer.

The first settlements in this area appeared as early as the first millennium A.D. The town, as well as its surroundings, started developing in the 13th century in the place of Senieji Trakai (Old Trakai). According to a legend after a successful hunting party, Grand Duke Gediminas discovered a beautiful lake-surrounded place not far from Kernavė, then capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and decided to build a castle in the location. That is how the Old Trakai Castle was built in Senieji Trakai. The name of Trakai was first mentioned in Teutonic Knights chronicles in 1337. This year is considered to be the official date of town’s foundation. When Grand Duke Gediminas finally settled in Vilnius, Senieji Trakai was inherited by his son Kęstutis. Duchy of Trakai developed and the town entered its best decades.

Trakai Island Castle © Augustas Didzgalvis - BigHead/cc-by-sa-4.0 Trakai Island Castle © Dudva/cc-by-sa-3.0 Karaite Synagogue © Dezidor/cc-by-3.0 Užutrakis Manor © Karmen media/cc-by-sa-3.0 Wooden Karaite houses © Nikater/cc-by-sa-3.0 Trakai Island Castle on Lake Galve © Jakro64/cc-by-sa-3.0
<
>
Trakai Island Castle © Augustas Didzgalvis - BigHead/cc-by-sa-4.0
Kęstutis moved the town from Senieji Trakai to its current location, which is sometimes known as Naujieji Trakai. The new location was a place of intensive construction: a new castle was built in the strait between lakes Galvė and Luka and known as the Peninsula Castle, and another one, known as the Island Castle, on an island in Lake Galvė. A village grew around the castles. Vicinity of Trakai was protected by Senieji Trakai, Strėva, Bražuolė, Daniliškės and other hillforts from attacks of the Teutonic Knights. Despite the protection, both wooden castles were successfully raided by the Teutonic Knights several times in a row. The town was in the center of a conflict between Grand Duke Jogaila (later to become King of Poland) with his uncle Kęstutis. In 1382 Jogaila’s and Kęstutis’s armies met near Trakai, but Jogaila tricked Kęstutis and imprisoned him in Kreva. A few weeks later Kęstutis died in captivity and Jogaila transferred the castles to his brother Skirgaila, who became the governor of Lithuania Proper. However, his rule was briefly interrupted when in 1383 joint forces of Kęstutis’s son Vytautas and the Teutonic Knights captured the town. In 1392, Vytautas and Jogaila signed the Astrava Agreement ending their quarrel. Vytautas became the Grand Duke of Lithuania while Jogaila technically remained his superior. Vytautas also regained his father’s lands, including Trakai. Despite his official capital being in Vilnius, Vytautas spent more time in Trakai. In early 15th century he replaced the older, wooden fortress with a stone-built castle. Some design elements were borrowed from the castles of the Teutonic Knights as Vytautas spent some time with the Teutons forming an alliance against Jogaila in earlier years. Trakai became a political and an administrative centre of the Duchy, sometimes named a de facto capital of Lithuania. Construction of the brick castles was finished and a Catholic church was built. In 1409, the town was granted with Magdeburg Rights; it is one of the first towns in Lithuania to get city rights. The village started rapidly developing into a town. In 1413, it became a seat of the Trakai Voivodeship and a notable center of administration and commerce.

After the Grand Duchy of Lithuania joined the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569, the castles remained a royal property, but the town’s importance gradually declined, with the nearby Vilnius and the political center of the Commonwealth in Kraków being far more important. Nevertheless, it continued to be the seat of local Sejmik. In Polish sources the town name was started to be referred to as Troki. In 1477, the castle on the lake was a meeting place of King Casimir IV with Venetian envoys. After that the castle became a luxurious prison for political prisoners. Sigismund I the Old imprisoned the members of Goštautai family, believed to be conspiring with Michael Glinski. Also Helena, widow of King Alexander was kept there in order to prevent her escape to the Grand Duchy of Moscow. The castle was refurbished by King Sigismund I the Old, who set up his summer residence there; however, after his death in 1548 the castle gradually fell into disrepair. During the wars between Russia and Poland between 1654 and 1667, the town was plundered and burnt. In the aftermath of the war with the Tsardom of Russia in 1655, both castles were demolished and the town’s prosperity ended. The castle ruins remained a historical landmark. During the Great Northern War (1700–1721) Trakai was plundered again, as famine and plague swept the country. After the Partitions of Poland in 1795, the area was annexed by the Russian Empire. After World War I, the area became part of the restored Republic of Poland. In 1929, the Polish authorities ordered reconstruction and restoration of the Trakai Island Castle. The works in the Upper castle were almost complete in 1939, when the Invasion of Poland started and the area was soon annexed by the Soviet Union, then by Nazi Germany during Operation Barbarossa. During the war, more than 5,000 Jews from the Trakai region were murdered by the Nazis. In 1944, during Operation Tempest, the town was liberated by joint forces of the underground Polish Home Army and Soviet partisans. After World War II it was again annexed by the Soviet Union and made part of the Lithuanian SSR in the Soviet Union; subsequently many of the city’s and area’s ethnic Polish inhabitants left for the recovered Territories of the Polish People’s Republic. In 1961, the reconstruction of the upper castle and a high tower construction were completed; however, the works came to a halt as a result of Nikita Khrushchev‘s speech of 21 December 1960, where the First Secretary declared that reconstruction of the castle would be a sign of glorification of Lithuania’s feudal past. Works in the lower castle were not resumed until the 1980s and were completed by the Lithuanian authorities in the early 1990s. Today the Island Castle serves as the main tourist attraction, hosting various cultural events such as operas and concerts.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on trakai-visit.lt, Wikivoyage Trakai and Wikipedia Trakai. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

Philadelphia, birthplace of the United States of America

Philadelphia, birthplace of the United States of America

[caption id="attachment_226129" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Philadelphia from South Street Bridge © King of Hearts/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most-populous city in the United States and the most populous city in the state of Pennsylvania, with a 2020 population of 1,603,797. It is also the second-most populous city in the Northeastern United States, behind New York Cit...

[ read more ]

Federal Palace of Switzerland in Bern

Federal Palace of Switzerland in Bern

[caption id="attachment_233581" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Federal Palace of Switzerland © flicker.com - Flooffy/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Federal Palace is a building in Bern housing the Swiss Federal Assembly (legislature) and the Federal Council (executive). It is the seat of the government of Switzerland and parliament of the country. The building is a listed symmetrical complex just over 300 metres (980 ft) long. It is considered one of the most important historic buildings in the country and listed in ...

[ read more ]

The Saint Lawrence River

The Saint Lawrence River

[caption id="attachment_151311" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Map of the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River © Kmusser/cc-by-sa-2.5[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The St. Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin. The river traverses the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario and forms part of the international boundary between Ontario and N...

[ read more ]

Rosenheim in Upper Bavaria

Rosenheim in Upper Bavaria

[caption id="attachment_161040" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Max-Josefs-Platz © Rufus46[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The independent city of Rosenheim is located in the centre of the district of Rosenheim (Upper Bavaria), and is also the seat of administration of this region. It is located on the west bank of the Inn at the confluence of the rivers Inn and Mangfall, in the Bavarian Alpine Foreland. It is the third largest city in Upper Bavaria with over 61,000 inhabitants and one of 23 administrative centres in Bavaria. Rosenh...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Paris - Arrondissement du Louvre (1th)

Theme Week Paris - Arrondissement du Louvre (1th)

[caption id="attachment_151908" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Louvre © Benh LIEU SONG[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Situated principally on the right bank of the River Seine, it also includes the west end of the Île de la Cité. The arrondissement is one of the oldest in Paris, the Île de la Cité having been the heart of the city of Lutetia, conquered by the Romans in 52 BC, while some parts on the right bank (including Les Halles included) date back to the early Middle Ages. It is the least populated of the city's arrondisse...

[ read more ]

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

[caption id="attachment_151335" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Tognopop[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognisable s...

[ read more ]

Portrait: 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare

Portrait: 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare

[caption id="attachment_161465" align="aligncenter" width="460"] William Shakespeare by John Taylor[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet, and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. Hi...

[ read more ]

East Turkestan or Xinjiang and the Uyghurs in China

East Turkestan or Xinjiang and the Uyghurs in China

[caption id="attachment_225977" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Xinjiang Internment Camps map © US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and Australian Strategic Policy Institute[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Xinjiang, officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (East Turkestan) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region of the People's Republic of China (PRC), located in the northwest of the country close to Central Asia. Being the largest province-level division of China and the 8th-largest coun...

[ read more ]

Sainte-Geneviève Library in Paris

Sainte-Geneviève Library in Paris

[caption id="attachment_26125" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Sainte-Geneviève Library © Priscille Leroy/cc-by-sa-3.0-fr[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Sainte-Geneviève Library (French: Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève) is a public and university library in Paris, which inherited the collection of the Abbey of St Genevieve. The library contains around 2 million documents. The library catalogue, executed in the thirteenth century (Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 16,203, fol. 71V) listed 226 volumes. Only a few n...

[ read more ]

Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv

Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv

[caption id="attachment_226105" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Idan shilon/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Heichal HaTarbut, also known in English as the Culture Palace, officially the Charles Bronfman Auditorium, until 2013 the Fredric R. Mann Auditorium, is the largest concert hall in Tel Aviv, Israel, and home to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The Israeli naming "Heichal ha-Tarbut" or "Palace of Culture" indicates the country's original socialist orientation and thus follows the numerous palaces of cul...

[ read more ]

Return to TopReturn to Top
Fountain in front of the Edwards Theater © Mrrxx/cc-by-sa-2.5
Santa Clarita in California

Santa Clarita is a city in northwestern Los Angeles County, California. With a 2020 census population of 228,673, it is...

Vilnius © Diliff/cc-by-sa-3.0
Theme Week Lithuania

Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of three...

© Malcolm grima83/cc-by-sa-4.0
Mellieħa in Malta

Mellieħa is a large village in the Northern Region of Malta. It has a population of 10,087 as of March...

Close