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A weekend in Lithuania
2008Trakai
Trakai from the Bus Station Trakai is the perfect day tip from Vilnius. Most people come here for the day but there are several B&B’s in this very pleasant town, so it can be worth to stay for a night or two.
It’s very easy to get to Trakai from Vilnius: there are several buses and trains every hour. I took the bus. It’s a short 25km ride through a road with forests and woods on both sides. Oh by the way, you buy the ticket on the bus, don’t worry about making the line at Vilnius Bus station.

Trakai bus station is right on Vitauto Street, where you can easily walk to the main sites.
Trakai Russian Orthodox Church

Trakai s a beautiful town, built on a peninsula over Lake Galvė. The scenery is really amazing and it’s a wonderful spot to spend a couple of days relaxing. Actually Trakai has it all: a lake, nature, forests, two castles, nice houses, history, good restaurants and a few bars.

The Orthodox Church of the nativity of the Virgin Mary was consecrated in 1863. It had no bell tower; it was added later in 1868. Actually the church was built in commemoration of the defeat of the Polish-Lithuanian Uprising against Russia.
The church was damaged by the Germans during the First World War, but it didn’t took so long to rebuild it.

Church Of The Visitation Of The Virgin Mary, Trakai, Lithuania

The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Trakai was built by Grand Duke Vytautas in 1409. After being destroyed at war, the church was reconstructed in 1717, and has today a mix of baroque and gothic elements.

I couldn't get inside because it was being restored. Anyway, the church is famous for an image of the Virgin Mary with his Child, which is believed to be miraculous.

Trakai St John Nepomuc Chapel

This column is said to have been built in the 17th century and was later named after St John Nepomuk.

It is not far from the Dominican Monastery and the Peninsula Castle

Dominican Monastery in Trakai

Sadly all religious sites were closed on the day I was there. The Russian Church was closed, the Church of the visitation was being restored and the Kenesa was closed too.

Anyway, I visited the Dominican Monastery and its worthwhile museum of religious art. The museum is rather small but has some fine artefacts and some beautiful religious pieces, including that weird cross with an islamic moon on it.

Religious Image, Trakai Dominican Monastery, Lithuania

The Dominican Monastery started as a church in the 18th century, just beside the Peninsula Castle. In the 19th century the church was turned into a monastery. Today you find the Trakai history museum on this building.

Trakai Peninsula Castle There are two castles in Trakai. The first one is Peninsula Castle and is almost totally in ruins except for a few towers and some parts of the defensive wall.

The other castle is Trakai’s masterpiece: The fairytale Island Castle.

A few centuries ago there used to be a wooden castle on Aukų hill, which is now part of the Peninsula Castle. The peninsula Castle was built in the XIV century by the Duke Kęstutis and is one of the biggest castles in Lithuania. Sadly it was destroyed in 1655 during the Russian-Swedish wars.

Uzutralis Estate in Trakai

The settlement of Užutrakis was bought by count J.Tiškevičius in the 19th Century to build this neo-renaissance palace.

It can be visited by boat, but I had no time to get there and, to be honest, I preferred to stay longer at the Island Castle.

The lake in Trakai

There are some 200 lakes in the Trakai area but one of the biggest and the most famous is Lake Galvė. There is where the Island Castle is located.

This picture was taken from a shore near the Dominican Monastery.

Links:
Trakai website
Trakai Historical National Park
Trakai on the Unesco tentative List