Finally finding the castle in Trakai

Trakai Travel Blog

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Finding a parking space in the village was not that easy

After my visits to the local countryside I finally found the city of Trakai which was my first goal on the trip. The city was cute with all wooden houses in different colours following the road all the way to the bridge to the castle.

There was a lot of traffic here so I was sure I was in the right place; there were a lot of tourist buses bringing people from all nationalities to this place.

I found a parking spot right in front of the bridge and found myself surrounded by newlyweds on their way towards the marriage pictures.

Looking at the beauty of Trakai Castle
This was the first time I got aquatinted with the national summer sport of the Lithuanians; weddings and I must say that the weather could not be better for these happy people now on a hunt for their picture that probably for half of them wouldn’t last as long as they hoped it would.

I strolled along the peer where you have possibility to buy all the traditional local art effect and jewellery made of amber, which is a natural product in this country. I had never seen so much amber before.

I crossed the bridge towards the castle and enjoyed a young girl playing violin in the middle of the bridge and at the same time looked at the beauty of the lake and the castle.

The castle is sometimes referred to as "Little Marienburg".

Looking at the beauty of Trakai Castle
The construction of the stone castle was begun in the 14th century by Kęstutis, and around 1409 major works were completed by his son Vytautas the Great, who died in this castle in 1430. Trakai was one of the main centers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the castle held great strategic importance. I was quiet taken by the Lithuanian history when I started to read about it. The area had been a mayor war zone for centuries just like in Belgium.

Trakai Island Castle was built in several phases. During the first phase, in the second half of the 14th century, the castle was constructed on the largest of three lake islands by the order of Grand Duke Kęstutis. The construction of Trakai Island Castle was related to the expansion and strengthening of the Trakai Peninsula Castle. Kęstutis moved his main residence and his treasury to the Island Castle.

The castle suffered major damage during an attack by the Teutonic Knights in 1377.

Lovely scene in the surounding lake
After the assassination of Kęstutis, a power struggle between Jogaila and Vytautas the Great for the title of Grand Duke of Lithuania began. The castle was besieged by both sides. Soon after the reconciliation between Jogaila and Vytautas, the second phase of construction started and continued until 1409. This phase is regarded as the major development in the history of the castle.

During the second phase, two wings were added, and on the southern side a 6 story (35 m. high) donjon was built. The donjon had movable gates which separated the palace from the forecastle. The donjon was used for several functions; besides serving as another defensive structure, it had a chapel and living quarters. It was linked to the multistory Ducal Palace, which had an inner yard. The inner yard had wooden galleries, which ran around the inner wall; these galleries were used to access various support facilities without going inside the palace itself.

Inside Trakai Castle

The entire southern wing of the southern palace was used for the Ducal Hall. This hall was around 10 x 21 meters in size, and only the Upper Palace in the Vilnius Castle Complex managed to surpass it. The Ducal Hall has preserved some of its original décor.

The principal construction material was so-called red Gothic bricks. Stone blocks were used only in the foundations and the upper parts of buildings, towers and walls. The castle was decorated in a variety of ways, including glazed roof tiling, burned bricks, and stained glass windows. Its overall style after the second construction phase could be described as Gothic with some Romanesque features.

The expansion of the forecastle in the early 15th century marked the third phase of Trakai's development.

Lovely scene in the surounding lake
The walls of the forecastle were strengthened to a thickness of 2.5 meters and raised with additional firing galleries. Three major defensive towers were constructed on the corners. The southwestern tower was also used as a prison.

The top store of the towers was designed for soldiers and housed a large number of cannons. A main gatehouse was also constructed which, along with the Ducal Palace donjon, had movable gates. The gatehouse was reinforced with additional sections for firing galleries. Near the inner walls several buildings were constructed, including stables, kitchens, and other support structures. When the castle was undergoing this expansion in the 15th century, the water level of Lake Galvė was several meters higher than it is today. The castle builders took advantage of this by separating the Ducal Palace and the forecastle with a moat, just wide enough for small boats to sail through. They were connected by gates that could be raised in case of an enemy attack.

Lovely scene in the surounding lake

During the 19th century, castle reconstruction plans were prepared. Its original frescos were preserved and copied. The Imperial Archaeological Commission initiated the documentation of the remaining castle in 1888. In 1905 the Imperial Russian authorities decided to partially restore the castle ruins. During World War I, Germans brought in their specialists, who made several attempts to restore the castle. In 1935-1941 parts of the Ducal Palace walls were strengthened, and the southeastern forecastle tower was rebuilt, including sections of its walls. Lithuanian and Polish preservationists worked on the project, but the work stopped when the war gained in intensity.

After World War II, a major reconstruction project was begun in 1946; active work started in 1951-1952. The major portion of the reconstruction was finished in 1961. The castle was reconstructed in a 15th century style

 

Chokk says:
The area is really tranquil
Posted on: Apr 06, 2012
fransglobal says:
I loved it yesterday. Very atmospheric...
Posted on: Apr 05, 2012
Chokk says:
It is a great place - and in the summertime it is usually quite warm there.
Posted on: Apr 05, 2012
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Finding a parking space in the vil…
Finding a parking space in the vi…
Looking at the beauty of Trakai Ca…
Looking at the beauty of Trakai C…
Looking at the beauty of Trakai Ca…
Looking at the beauty of Trakai C…
Lovely scene in the surounding lake
Lovely scene in the surounding lake
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Lovely scene in the surounding lake
Lovely scene in the surounding lake
Lovely scene in the surounding lake
Lovely scene in the surounding lake
Did the the Indians attack too
Did the the Indians attack too
Outside Trakai Castle
Outside Trakai Castle
Outside Trakai Castle
Outside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Inside Trakai Castle
Crossing the bridge
Crossing the bridge
Crossing the bridge
Crossing the bridge
Lake view
Lake view
Looking at the village and the tou…
Looking at the village and the to…
Boat rental
Boat rental
Looking at the castle
Looking at the castle
Trakai Sights & Attractions review
A wonderful place on a wonderful day
I crossed the bridge towards the castle and enjoyed a young girl playing violin in the middle of the bridge and at the same time looked at the beauty … read entire review
Trakai
photo by: frogas