Historical background of Trakai Island Castle
Formerly Trakai was a one of most prosperous city in The Great Duchy of Lithuania. In The Middle Ages three magnificent castles (Island Castle, Castle of Old Trakai and Peninsula Castle) were located there. It’s contemplating that the oldest one might be Peninsula Castle and Island Castle might be the latest one. Nowadays it’s simply called as Trakai Castle.
Unfortunately, all castles were deeply damaged during medieval battles and not many written records about its historical background have remained till these days.
However, some historical details about Trakai Island Castle remained to the present days. It’s known that The Grand Duke Kestutis was an initiator of the impressive Island Castle constructions. Unfortunately, the destiny was too cruel and Kestutis hadn’t seen the completion of the dream castle. The building work was finished by Kestutis sun – The Grand Duke Vytautas in XV century. Trakai Island Castle was used as defensive fortress and at the same time it was called as a magnificent residence of the Grand Duke. Many foreign messengers and honored guests visited that wonderful stronghold.
In the second part of XVI century Trakai Castle was used as a prison for gentlefolk. Mostly the changes of the castle purposes were influenced by judicial reform. Island Castle had lost the status of residence and hadn’t been as popular as formerly. After invasions in the middle of XVII century Island Castle had been severely damaged and hadn’t been rebuilt. Trakai city was burnt. The region was devastated and deserted.
Legendary Island Castle was restored in the middle of XX century. The first engineer/architect was B. Malevskis. He prepared a project for small but significant reconstructions of Island Castle ruins. Later on the historical Castle was restoring and renovating by many great architects/engineers such as J. Borovskis, B. Kruminis, St. Mikulionis and other.
Trakai Island Castle is enveloped with Galves lake. The only way leading to the stronghold is wooden bridge which lasts about 300 meters. The Island Castle seems impressive from the outside view. Semi-stony walls look perfectly with red bricks construction and graceful roofs. The palace is surrounded with solid defensive wall and sturdy towers. The roof tiles were used as the main building material for conical and pitched roofs. Due to Gothic structural elements Trakai Castle is called as an amazing Gothic defensive fortress in Lithuania.
Interior design of Trakai Island Castle was rebuilt during renovation periods. The inner spaces were reconstructed with red bricks, stones and complemented with wooden details. Ribbed vaults might be called as the most remarkable feature of Gothic architectural style. The biggest part of chambers, halls and other spaces were adapted to The Historical Museum of Trakai which settled there from 1962. It’s still working and arranging amazing tours through the old fortress’s corners.
Legend of Trakai Castle
Trakai Island Castle is enveloped with miracle tales and amazing legends. One of the best known is about the origin of historical castle. It says that Trakai Island Castle was built as a sweet present for beloved Kestutis wife. He fell in love with gorgeous priestess from pagan region aside the Baltic Sea. The Grand Duke Kestutis married that charming girl named Birute and settled in the Castle of Old Trakai. Unfortunately, his wife felt hapless and yearned. Birute missed her motherland and often dreamed about watery sea coast. For this reason, The Grand Duke Kestutis decided to create a new marvelous castle encircled by water in the island of Galves lake. He hoped that Island Castle would remind a homeland side by side the sea coast for his lovely wife. Thus began the long-lasting construction of the marvelous Castle.