“With lichen and mould overgrown all around / A time-honoured castle there looms! / Its true high-born rulers now sleep below ground, / Yet Trakai outlasted their tombs. / While centuries run, its grim ruins grow older, / Deserted and lonely, they gradually moulder.“
And this time I am starting with some words from a famous Lithuanian writer, Maironis, and his poem “Trakai Castle”. There is no surprise that about this castle poems were created by the most famous writers starting from the early 15th century. This castle is a part of the Trakai Historical National Park, and it is a symbol of Lithuania. Trakai Castle is standing here for long, long times. It has a fascinating history, legends and, of course, a spectacular view which you must see while visiting Lithuania. So today some exciting details and legends about this Lithuanian gem - Trakai Castle.
Long, long time ago, at the beginning of the 14th century, the Trakai town was the main center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Starting from the 15th century, we were the biggest country in Europe. Eh.. good old times. Mostly because of this great history, Trakai Castle is so loved and popular till nowadays. Trakai Castle is an island-castle located in Trakai, on an island in Lake Galvė. Starting from 1410, just after the famous battle of Grunwald, from the defense fortress it was turned into the residence of Grand Dukes of Lithuania - Kęstutis and his son Vytautas. Later on, Trakai Castle was used as a prison. From 1962 till now, in this castle is established the Trakai History Museum.
An interesting fact is that Trakai was considered as two different cities with two different religions - Roman Catholic and Karaite. Karaites are the ethnic group of Karaims, Turkish community. They were brought to Trakai in the 15th century by the Duke Vytautas. And together they brought their traditions which made the Trakai town special. Their style of the houses is still visible in Trakai, their traditional pastries - kibinai, is popular and concurrent part of this town’s culture. This town is popular among Lithuanians and tourists because it is near Vilnius, and the surroundings of this town (Trakai Castle, lakes and forests) are incredible. One of the traditions among Lithuanians - if you are in Trakai you definitely have to eat kibinai for lunch. And there are a lot of traditional restaurants that offer kibinai pastries. One of the most popular is "Senoji Kibininė", but there is way more, even the small houses are offering those kibinai baked by their recipes. So, I recommend you just to listen to your heart and try those delices. They go with various fillings - mushrooms, chicken, lamb (most traditional one), cheese, spinach and cottage cheese, even with the chocolate.
Every castle in the world has some legends and interesting stories about ghosts. No exception is Trakai Castle. Some of the locals are telling a story about the watchman who saw the ghost of the Grand Duche Duke Vytautas flying around the castle. Another legend is about the birth of the Trakai town. It says that during the times of the Grand Duche, Duke Kęstutis was living with his wife Birutė in the Old Trakai town. But Birutė was not used not to have a lot of water around her (because she was from the seaside of Lithuania). Therefore, Kęstutis started to build a castle in a peninsula surrounded by lakes just in order to please his wife.
That’s it for today’s stories about Lithuanian Dukes, tasty Karaims pastries, and capricious women. While you were reading this story, Trakai Castle was standing majestically and thinking about great times with dukes and fights. And we all hope that this Lithuanian gem – Trakai castle will be standing many years more.
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