Trakai District Municipality

A municipality in the Vilnius County. Located in southeastern Lithuania, among hundreds of lakes. Its administrative centre, Trakai (54°38′0″N 24°56′0″E), is 28 km (17 mi) west of Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. Trakai is the municipality's second largest city after Lentvaris. Ethnographic regions: Dzūkija and Aukštaitija.

The district comprises the Trakai Historical National Park, Europe's only historical national park, and Aukštadvaris Regional Park.

Population, district: 37,400 (2001 census)

Population, Trakai: 5,357 in 2009 (Lithuanians, 66.5%; Poles, 19%; Russians, 8.87%)

Area, district: 1,208 sq km (466 sq mi)

First record, Trakai: 1337.

Signed the Memorandum of Cooperation with the Association of Local Governments "The Gediminids’ Way" on August 25, 2013.

Trakai is a destination of the European Route of Jewish Heritage, a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe.

Official site of the Trakai District Municipality:
www.trakai.lt

Tourist site:
www.trakai-visit.lt


Trakai Island Castle

Trakai was the capital of the GDL from before 1321 to 1323, after Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas erected a brick castle in the settlement presently called Senieji Trakai ("Old Trakai," a village 3 km or 1.9 mi east of Trakai).

When Gediminas settled in Vilnius, Old Trakai went over to his son, Grand Duke of Lithuania Kęstutis. In Old Trakai, Kęstutis's married his second wife, Birutė, and in 1350 there was born their son Vytautas (Vytautas the Great, Grand Duke of Lithuania).

Kęstutis moved his town to Naujieji Trakai ("New Trakai") – its current location. He built a castle on a peninsula between lakes Galvė and Luka (Peninsula Castle) and a castle on an island in Galvė (Island Castle).

In 1382, Kęstutis was imprisoned by his nephew Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiełło, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland) and died in few weeks. Jogaila handed Trakai over to his brother Skirgaila (Skirgaila-Ivan, Duke of Trakai, then Regent of GDL, Grand Duke of Lithuania and Grand Prince of Kyiv). Next year, however, Vytautas in conjunction with the Teutonic Knights captured Trakai.

While Vilnius remained de jure the capital of Vytautas, he resided mostly in Trakai, which was the capital de facto. He launched the second phase of construction of the Island Castle, which was complete in 1409. The same year, he granted Trakai Magdeburg Rights.

In 1409, Vytautas also built a church in honor of the Visitation of Mary. It is believed that he donated to the church a picture of Mary and Jesus, which later was called Trakai Madonna (or Our Lady of Trakai) and made the church a pilgrimage destination for its numerous miracles. The icon was given the title of Protectress of Lithuania, and in September 1718 was crowned with blessings of the Holy See.

In 1430, Vytautas the Great died in the Island Castle.

Monuments from the epoch of the Gediminids and GDL that have survived in Trakai:

  • Peninsula Castle (14th c.)
  • Island Castle (14th–15th c.)
  • Trakai Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (15th c.).