About Trakai

Trakai are famous for its wonderful nature and rich history. The city has experienced the glory and decadence, revived again, and has always been the attraction for travellers, researchers and tourists.

The earliest historical information on Trakai reaches XVI century. Part of this information covers Old Trakai. The legend tells that the Grand Duke Gediminas went hunting and discovered amazing place, Trakai. He then moved his capital city from Kernave to Trakai.

The New Trakai are famous for the castles of Lithuanian Grand Dukes. One of them was built on peninsula and the other one in the island of a lake. Trakai was the second capital of Lithuania during the sovereignty of brothers Kestutis and Algirdas.

Kestutis moved his capital from Old Trakai to the lake protected New Trakai in 1375. At his times this was a town already. Trakai became a residence of Lithuanian Grand Dukes and was the place of the struggles for power between the Dukes and also fierce battles with the Order of the Knights of Cross.

Skirgaila, who was the reign of the castle after the assassination of Kestutis, burned Trakai in 1391 when retreating from the approaching armies of the Order.

Trakai prospered again at the end of XIV century and beginning of XV century, during the times of Vytautas the Great, who rebuilt Trakai and built the castle from scratch again.

The gothic style brick castle was built in the latest fashion of those times, following French models and according to the most modern projects, originally combining defensive and residential purpose. The level of the lake Galve was almost two meters higher then, and water used to reach the castle walls. The canal, separating the building into front castle and residence palace was also filled with water. It was a real water castle.

The castle of Vytautas was a centre of Lithuania's political life and Trakai then obtained the Magdeburg rights. The so-called homeland of the Dukes used to attract numerous foreign guests, diplomats and nobles. For being one of the most luxurious, Vytautas' palace was famous all over Europe. His wife, Duchess Ona, also was one of the smartest, most sophisticated and educated ladies in Europe.

In the beginning of XV century, Ghillebert de Lannoy in his travel review wrote that Trakai was a large, open and multicultural city. At present, together with the Lithuanians, there are Russians, Jews, Tatars and Karaites living in Trakai also. According to the stories, Vytautas the Great brought the Karaites from the Black sea. Indeed, Karaites were settling in Trakai since XIII century. Even at present, walking on the streets of Trakai one would notice the wooden houses of Karaites with three windows looking to the street. The kenese - wooden Karaitian church built in XVIII century also reached our days. The only Karaite Museum in the world was established in Trakai in 1938.
In XV century Trakai were famous not solely for the culture of it's palace, but also for astonishing nature and especially fauna with aurochs, elks and deers.

After death of Vytautas, Trakai castle went through the times of both embellishment and neglect. Since the times of Alexander there was a prison for the nobles. In XVI century, the envoys of Moscow Dukes and even the Khan of Golden Horde, Shich-Achmet have been imprisoned there.

In the middle of XVI century, Trakai started loosing its significance. However, Zygimantas Augustas, who, although, has not even been visiting Vilnius too often, treated Trakai as an equal capital.

The religious life of Trakai revived in XVII century. The pilgrims and palmers started visiting the parish church (five baroque sanctuaries and paintings of unknown painters remained untill our days) wishing to see the painting of Holy Mother, which was famous for its miracles. Vytautas the Great received it from Eastern Roman Empire and donated to Trakai.

Trakai castle declined in XVIII century only. In XX century, after the World War I, the castle started being preserved and restored. The reconstruction works started in 1956. The castle regained the shape of XV century in 1987. The Museum of Trakai History has been established in 1962. In 1992, the new exposition on Lithuanian manor culture was displayed in the museum.

At present, the guests of LAKE STONE RESIDENCE are welcome to visit the Old Trakai, take a walk in the old streets of Trakai or the mysterious Uztrakis park (former park of the palace of Count Tiskevicius by the lake Galve), where one may find plants from all over the world.