Trakai is a small historic town and lake resort in Lithuania, first mentioned in the year 1377. It lies 28 kilometers from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. This small town, inhabited by about 5,000 locals, is famous for its unique and rich history, marvelous lakes, the old town built by the Karaites, and the castle constructed on the island in Lake Galvė. A notable feature of Trakai is that the town was built and preserved by people of different nationalities and it was the residence of several Grand Dukes of Lithuania.
Today Trakai attracts visitors not only for its historical significance and beautiful nature. A lot of cultural, entertainment and sports events are held in Trakai, especially during the summertime.
Trakai is also famous for the kybyns, a traditional dish of Karaites. Kybyns are made of pastry filled with chopped lamb. Nowadays, there are many choices of kybyns, they can be filled with chopped chicken, pork, mushrooms or cottage cheese and spinach.
In and around Trakai there are about 20 lakes, the largest of them being Lake Galvė, an established center of water sports in Lithuania and home of Trakai Island Castle. It is a 15th-century fortress built on one of the islands in the middle of the lake. Trakai was one of the main centers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the castle held great strategic importance during Middle Ages. Once home to grand dukes of Lithuania, it now houses the Trakai History Museum, with archaeological objects, coins, and crafts.
Another historical castle is located on a peninsula between the southern part of Lake Galvė and Lake Luka. Built in the 14th century by Kęstutis, Duke of Trakai, the Peninsula Castle was an important defensive structure protecting Trakai and Vilnius, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, against Teutonic Order attacks. In the 16th century, the castle was used as a prison. Sadly, much of it was destroyed during the 17th century. Nowadays, the remaining walls and towers are preserved and protected by the Trakai Historical National Park.
St. Mary Church
In 1409, Vytautas the Great, ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, built a gothic style church in his native Trakai. This church became famous for its icon of St. Mary and Jesus which, according to a legend, was given to Vytautas the Great by the Emperor of Constantinople, Manuel II Palaiologos, as a present for becoming Christian. While in Trakai, this icon soon became well-known for its miracles. The church was consecrated in 2017 as a basilica, a title given only to certain churches by the Pope.