Originating from the 14th century in Lithuania, at a time when the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Order of Teutonic Knights were in direct opposition of each other, Trakai Island Castle, like the other castles I’ve tracked so far, really fits well into a group of authentic, majestic palaces, full of drama and history.
One outlier might be that it is a major tourist destination of Lithuania. I do try to avoid highlighting castles that are major tourist traps, but I guess for me since there is so little western interest for traveling to Lithuania, any highly visited spots there don’t exactly lose points for being a mini-disneyland like destination. Anyways, the Trakai Visitor website notes 300,000 visitors per year (compared to 1.4 million at Neuschwanstein), so you decide if it’s too many people.
What I love about this castle beside the rich red gothic bricks, is that it is built completely on an island. I remember my one and only visit to Mont Saint Michel in France – another castle built on an island. From the the castle walls I looked out over the surrounding waters, thinking about the English forces laying siege on the castle and attempting to attack the well located fortress over acres of quicksand. Castles tend to have strategic locations, whether being located high above safe points of entry, below massive cliff sides, or surrounded by man made moats, and for me the choice of an island is a favorite.
As a visitor, a big perk of Trakai Island Castle is it being on Lake Galve, since that also means you can take out a sail boat out while visiting and enjoy the area while gliding quietly across the waters and taking in the scenery.
Throughout the summer season, the park and village of Trakai offer a variety of events. While you may be content with hiking, eating, and exploring the castles, churches, historical sites and plaques. You may also want to time a visit with the various music shows, performances, and fairs that go on from June to August. Check out their calendar here, particularly interesting dates to me were the theatre performance in August of Ana Karenina, the Triathlon in July, and the Ancient Crafts Fair in the end of August.
More visitor information here:
LT-21104 Trakai, Lithuania
Tel: +370 528 51934
Trakai Island Castle: http://www.trakaimuziejus.lt
Trakai Village: http://www.trakai-visit.lt/en/