Today, Ismael (the Galician Spanish guy I mentioned in the previous post) and I went to Trakai, which is roughly 45 minutes outside Vilnius. My tour book highly recommended a day trip there, and I was not disappointed.
The first thing we saw when getting off the train was this absolutely gorgeous lake with lush greenery as far as one could see. We had to stop for pictures.
After that, we embarked on the roughly 2 mile walk from the train station to the castle…which was actually quite nice since it was mid-70s with a nice breeze, and because the entire walk is along a thin inlet surrounded by the aforementioned lake.
The castle looks like it’s out of a fairy tale: brick-red (much like Wawel) and the lone building on an island in the middle of the lake. Although it is definitely a castle, it is a little smaller than the other castles I’ve seen in Europe; I think this actually adds to its coolness.
The castle actually has a long story associated with it. It housed the Karaites, which is a religious sect from Baghdad who practice strict adherence to the Torah (rejecting the Talmud) and read in both Hebrew and Arabic. It seems pretty random, but the Grand Duke of Lithuania brought several hundred Karaite families from Crimea to Trakai around 1400 AD to serve as bodyguards. So it’s random they’re here, but not that random.
Overall, a great day trip, and something I feel everyone should do if they come to Vilnius. One more panoramic for good measure: