It is impossible, it is simply impossible to avoid comparing Troki Castle to Malbork Castle. How does Troki compare in this comparison?
One of Lithuania’s most iconic sites, Trakai Castle appears on many postcards, maps and even on the covers of guidebooks. No top 10 of Lithuania can do without him, and he can’t do without crowds of tourists. So it’s not surprising that a monument on the scale of its Malbork brother is expected here.
When we planned our trip to Lithuania, this place was the second most important place for us to see (after the Old Town in Vilnius). Especially since this year we were in Malbork and visited the Teutonic castle, so we absolutely wanted to see the Lithuanian answer. Yes, this is the Lithuanian answer, because essentially what we will see in Trakai is a reconstruction of what was built in the 14th-15th centuries on an island on Lake Galva (although the reconstruction is also in part the work of the Poles).
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Trakai and Karaites
Trakai is about 30 kilometers from Vilnius, so we decided to see this castle on the way from Poland to Vilnius. Driving through the village, our attention was immediately drawn to the characteristic wooden Karaite houses along the road – modest, with three windows (one for God, one for Vytautas, and one for the household members).
Karaites are one of the oldest Turkish tribes, and were brought to Trakai in the 14th century. by Prince Vytautas, who wanted them in his army. Karaites recognize only the Old Testament, their religion is a faction of Judaism. They still inhabit the aforementioned houses in Trakai to this day, but they also settled in other cities in what is now Lithuania (although Trakai remains the main “command” center ;-)). You can learn about the history and culture of the Karaites by visiting Trakai Castle.
If you go to Trakai by car then you have to reckon with paid parking on site – you can park on the street (parking meters) or in one of the numerous private parking lots (price 2eur/day). We chose option #2, because we were going to spend a lot of time in the castle, but it worked out differently :)
You have to admit that the castle is very nicely located, on a picturesque lake. There are two bridges leading to the island with the castle, of which just one was being repaired, but of course tourists were taken care of and a smaller, makeshift bridge was prepared to reach the entrance. Between them is an islet with a wooden sculpture of Prince Vytautas.
Crossing the gate, one enters the courtyard of the castle, and immediately to the left are the cash registers. Entrance costs 6 euros/person, and a fee is also paid at the box office for interior photography.
The origins of the castle date back to the 14th century, when there was a wooden fortress erected here by Kiejstut, built over in the next century by Prince Vytautas. Unfortunately, it was completely destroyed in the 17th century during the war with Moscow, and was only rebuilt in the mid-20th century (before that, visitors could only admire the ruins).
In the lower castle, outside the courtyard, there are several exhibitions in the rooms on the right (an exhibition of stuffed animals, seals, pipes – there is something for everyone ;) ).
To get to the upper castle, you climb the stairs, which are on the opposite side of the entrance, and then take the bridge over the moat to enter the courtyard of the upper castle.
Here, you can circulate through the various rooms and admire the various halls, with caution, as the stairs are quite narrow and steep. This section includes. Prince Vytautas’ chamber and the largest representative chamber (200m2).
It’s hard to judge this castle with Malbork Castle still in your mind. Unfortunately, Trakai Castle comes out next to it…. pale. Nevertheless, the castle’s surroundings and location are unique.
The tour of the castle took us about an hour and a half, we expected to go down to three. Unfortunately towards the end it started to rain so we had to seek shelter :)
What else in Trakai?
In addition to the castle, there are several other places worth seeing in Trakai itself. Of course, it’s worth walking down the main street with the aforementioned wooden houses, but other attractions include the Trakai Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (inside is a 16th century image of Our Lady of Trakai) and the Castle on the peninsula (or rather, its ruins).
We were already a bit tired and, above all, wet, so our thoughts were in some warm pub with warming soup.
While in Trakai, be sure to try Karaite cuisine, especially the famous dumplings – kibin. Kibiny can be found in any restaurant, we chose the one recommended by people who paved the way for us :) Kibbins take up about two pages on the menu, varying in stuffing: from traditional mutton to vegetarian (in other places we also met with sweet kibbins!).
Kibbins must be on the table, on ours there were a total of 6 different ones. Plus, soup served in traditional Lithuanian bread with cumin and traditional tomato soup – what more do soaked and frozen hikers need? ;)
Troki is one of those places where you will easily get along in Polish – we had no problem either in the castle or in the pub.
As standard, we recommend you all our photos from this place:
We recommend you our other posts about Lithuania.