When in Lithuania, a visit to Trakai Castle is mandatory. The castle is located in the city of Trakai, about 20 km from Vilnius, Lithuania's capital. It's situated in the Trakai Historic National Park.
The park consists mainly of forests and lakes, well over 200. The castle itself is located in the middle of the biggest lake, lake Galvė. The castle was of great strategic importance during the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and it has seen many wars.
The castle proved to be well worth a visit. I visited in the winter and the whole lake surrounding the castle was frozen, providing a magnificent view. It somehow made me feel like I was in some Lord of the Rings type movie, as the castle had a magical, fairy-tale look.
The best time to visit the castle is probably the summer time (June to September). The surrounding area provides perfect pick-nick opportunities. My visit was in January so it was pretty cold. Luckily, I found a very fashionable hat to keep my ears from freezing.
The castle hosts a number of festivals, concerts and holiday events. In 1962 a history museum was established in the castle. The museum features a large collection of arts, crafts and writings. Although the museum was certainly interesting, my favorite activity inside the castle was the Archery class.
Trakai Castle (and the city of Trakai itself) play an important role in Lithuanian history. It is believed that the famous Lithuanian hero, the Grand Duke Gediminas, found the area after a hunting trip. The castle was build by the Duke of Trakai, another famous name in Lithuanian history. A community developed with the castle being the center of the action.
Although the castle has been rebuild, it's historical charm has been preserved well. After you visit, make sure you try the traditional Lithuanian cold Borscht. It comes with a hot potato, sour cream and dill on top. Any of the restaurants in the nearby Trakai city will serve it. Enjoy!