Trakai is a symbol of Lithuanian tourism like Venice in Italy, or St. Petersburg in Russia. Similarly Trakai was a former state of governor residence, the city have held many important cultural and historical events. And like Venice or St. Petersburg, Trakai is a city on the water. The only difference is that it is not near the sea but surrounded by lakes.
Trakai city located approximately 28 kilometers from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius was first mentioned in year 1377 by Vigandas of Marburg in "Chronicle of New Prussia”. If to believe the legend, Trakai appeared on women's whims. Kestutis’ Duke of Trakai and Samogitia, wife Birute was unsatisfied that there is very little water in Old Trakai (about 3 km from Trakai) compared to her birthplace Palanga. As the result in the end of XIV century Kestutis begun to build new castle on the peninsula and about 1376 moved there. Later Duke Kestutis and his son Vytautas the Great built another castle in the largest Galves lake island.
Today Trakai castles are one of the most visited tourist sites in Lithuania, during the year it attracts up to 300 000visitors. In the environment of medieval castles variety of events, such as the day of ancient craft or knight tournaments and various concerts takes place. Chamber music concerts are often held in Uzutrakis where neorenaissance style Count J. Tiskevicius palace is surrounded by park designed by French landscape architect E. Andre.
Trakai is famous not only for its castles, but also for other landmarks such as St. Virgin Mary Church, which in 1409 was founded by Vytautas the Great, church poses Trakai God Mother portrait which is famous for many miracles. During middle ages, Trakai was a multicultural settlement, now Karaites perceive Trakai as their homeland. At the end of XIV century the Crimean Tatars were brought to Trakai and settled here by Vytautas the Great. They were loyal to the duke’s castle guards and custodians. It is estimated that now in Trakai (approximate population 6000) lives about 60 Karaites. here situated their house of worship – kenesa and Karaites unique ethnographic exhibition. In Trakai Karaites houses made of wood provides a distinctive flavor to the city. Houses are usually with three windows on the street: according to legend, one is for the God, the other for Vytautas, the third for yourself. It is said that it is Karaites who taught Lithuanians to pickle cucumbers. However they are most famous for Karaite dish, which is must to taste as well as to visit the castle.
Trakai is a part of Trakai Historical National park. Efforts are placed to preserve the authentic natural environment. Here you can meet travelers from the West, for whom catle is not the most beautiful, but it is nature! They have number of castles back home but it is the nature they lack, which would be untouched and aesthetical. Therefore, in addition to study tours, museums, trips by boats, yachts or steam boat, swimming or diving, fishing, camping and visits to cafes, many consider walking in the city or just sitting near lake also as relaxing and enjoyable.
As famous world class ballet legend and honorary citizen of Trakai Maja Pliseckaja once said: if there is a paradise on earth it is here in Trakai.