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Throwback: a day trip in Trakai Medieval environment

If you are in Vilnius, You can not miss a visit to one of the most picturesque and fascinating towns of Lithuania: Trakai. This small medieval village is perched on a small island connected to a strip of land by a distinctive wooden bridge passable only on foot. Trakai is enjoyable not only for its unique historical atmosphere, but also for the beautiful surrounding landscape. 

The town is located in a famous national park, featuring no fewer than 32 lakes of different sizes but all navigable. When the weather conditions allow everyone is suitable by canoe and kayak tour or to practice other sports like water skiing and much more, you just need to give rein to the imagination.

Moreover, to give an extra magic and at the same time sinister touch, over the construction origins of this gem exists stories and legends between the most curious ones. Certainly one the most interesting wants his building dates back to the whims of a woman, and how else could it be! The story goes that Birute, the Duke of Trakai’s wife, originally from a small town called Palanga overlooking the Baltic Sea, settled in the old Trakai’s castle she was suffering for the lack of hers sea. Therefore her powerful husband, madly in love with her decided to build a new castle nestled in the glittering waters of the lakes in the region.

Trakai is made ​​even more peculiar by the presence of a small ethnic group of Karaites grafted in this area by the Duke Vytautas the Great in the XII century.

This community has still controversial and debated origins. The theory gaining currently more academic value by scholars wants them to be descendants of Turks settled in Crimea but with strong Jewish influence. However, over the centuries, this population has suffered real persecutions that led to an almost complete extermination of the breed and to a substantial assimilation process. According to a study conducted in 1997 by the Statistics Department of Lithuania the Karaites citizenry count only 257 inhabitants. However, in the small village you can still appreciate some examples of typical architecture such as the Knessa the characteristic three windows’ temple in which they are still practicing their faith.

I was captured by this information and I decided to adventure myself into this blast from the past. The best way to reach the town is with bus and depending on the stops the route can lasts from 30 to 45 minutes. Just got off the glare of the sun on the myriad of lakes deceive everyone with the last bursts of heat and summer. Several paths allow tourists and enthusiasts to venture into relaxing walks by the lake and step long pier where you can rent small boats. The closer you get to the main attraction the most you perceive the ambience changing: the laughter of children, the chattering of the adults, the peddlers’ noises and the street artists music break the silence.

Finally, after a delicious lunch with tasty Kibinai, typical Karaite’s food handed down for centuries: I went down into the depths and all around the castle. I discovered it has been rebuilt several times over the centuries, and nowadays it attracts tourists from all over the country and foreigners as well. Elderly local women carefully maintain the structure and a cultural association organize tours inside the castle. To recreate the medieval climate you can play with ancient wooden toys placed in the main square or try your skills as archery or in tug-of-war or join the medieval representation they organize once per year.

Therefore, dear ladies and lords, now you’re ready for a leap in the past. Enjoy it.

Jums gali patikti