Trakai is the city situated between 3 lakes, 28 km West from Vilnius, that represents Lithuania for more than two million tourists every year. It is well known for its natural beauty of landscapes, wildlife reserves, forests and the island castle on lake Galvė which is the only one of its kind in Europe. According to 2008 data, there are approximately 5400 inhabitants in Trakai. The area of the city is 11,5 km2 .
History of Trakai began in the 13th century when 4 km from nowadays city the Old Trakai was established. It is told that the Old Trakai was one of the strongest defensive cities of Lithuania in the 13th century as the Duchy of Lithuania was being attacked by the Teutonic Order regularly.
In 1321 the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was moved from Kernavė to the Old Trakai by the grand duke Gediminas, but after one year the capital was moved to Vilnius. In 1375 the New Trakai (the nowadays city) became one of the most important administrative organs in Lithuania. According to historical facts, New Trakai was the place where the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas was born. His parents were the grand duke Kęstutis and his wife Birutė. Vytautas was a very powerful leader of Lithuania as the country was widened from the Baltic to the Black sea during his dominance from 1392 to 1430. Believing in the city power, more than 400 Karaite families moved to Trakai from Crimea after successful Vytautas` campaign against the Golden Horde in the end of 14th century. In fact, the constant aggression of the Crusaders was stopped only after the eminent battle of Žalgiris in 1410 which was so triumphant because of being thoroughly planned by Vytautas in Trakai. As a consequence, Lithuania became the biggest country in Europe until the unification with Poland in the 1569. The meaning of Trakai as a center of trade, politics and culture decreased in 15-16th centuries. In the middle of the 17th century Trakai was hardly damaged by the Russian military forces when both Trakai castles – the Old and the New one deteriorated into debris. The New Castle was rebuilted only in 1962. Nowadays a Museum of History is situated there.
Trakai is thought to be one of the most entertaining short period holiday resorts in Lithuania. In 2008 the city got the official national status to be a resort. There is no doubt that it is really worth to be of this kind as there are plenty leisure time activities such like swimming, fishing, boating and others. The resort is also famous for its history museum in the Trakai castle where visitors are able to see a breathtaking exhibition of many historical relicts from ancient tools to clothes and furniture. What is more, music performances and festivals are held in the yard of the castle. Such events attracts music fans a lot as the past and the present unites into one amazing show. If a city guest wants to feel the real Trakai, visiting the Trakai island castle is not the only one necessity. They must have the local special meal called kybyn as well. Kybyn is a national dish of Karaite nation that is one of the main nationalities living in Trakai. There are many cottages and recreation complexes for visitors to stay as well as wide range of local homesteads where city guests can try various exotic entertainments like sailing in an aero-boat, horse riding, paragliding or even trying to find your way back from the forest at night. Everybody could find something interesting to do as there are many different time spending variants.
Despite the fact Trakai has lost its former majesty, the city is still attractive and interesting for many people from all over the world. Not many little cities are so attention catching, but strange yet true, this little township is very exceptional and attracts many visitors every year.
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