Trakai Island Castle (Lithuanian: Trakų salos pilis) is an island castle located in Trakai, Lithuania on an island in Lake Galvė. The castle is sometimes referred to as "Little Marienburg".
|This is a file from wikimapia.org, Author: ArnoutSteenhoek|
According to the chronicle legend, after a successful hunt, Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas found a great place near the town of Kernave and decided to erect a castle on it and move the capital here. In the second half of the 14th century, here in the Old Traki (Syaneyi Trakai), was standing stone castle. Rules to them in 1337-1382 son of Gediminas Kęstutis. Around 1350 in the castle was born Vytautas. In 1375, Kęstutis moved his capital from Old Traki to New Traki, which was protected by Lake Galvė. The construction of Trakai Island Castle was related to the expansion and strengthening of the Trakai Peninsula Castle. Castle in the Old Traki in 1391 was destroyed and never rebuilt. In 1405, a plot of land with the remains of the old castle was given to the Benedictine monks. The monastery stands on the old citadel.The castle was damaged during an attack by the Teutonic Knights in 1377. After the assassination of Kęstutis, a power struggle between Jogaila and Vytautas the Great for the title of Grand Duke of Lithuania began. The castle was besieged by both sides and was severely damaged. Soon after the reconciliation between Jogaila and Vytautas, the second phase of construction started. This phase is regarded as the major development in the history of the castle. Apparently, during the truce with the Teutonic Order, the construction works were supervised by the Order's stonemason Radike.
|This is a file from the www.allcastles.ru|
When between the city of Kaunas and Vilnius was installed the direct way, Trakai was located away from the main trade routes. Therefore, in the 16th century Trakai lost its significance.
In 1616 the Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, Sigismund III issued a decree banning the military units to enter the territory of the city and looting of local residents. But despite of this fact, residents of Trakai regularly subjected to robbery. In 1655, during the war between Russia and Lithuania, Trakai Castle was abandoned and destroyed. By the end of 19th century castle was a ruin.
|This is a file from the ww.panoramio.com, Author: Yustas|
During the 19th century, castle reconstruction plans were prepared. Its original frescos were preserved and copied by Wincenty Smokowski. The Imperial Archaeological Commission initiated the documentation of the remaining castle in 1888. In 1905 the Imperial Russian authorities decided to partially restore the castle ruins. During World War I, Germans brought in their specialists, who made several attempts to restore the castle. In 1935-1941 parts of the Ducal Palace walls were strengthened, and the southeastern forecastle tower was rebuilt, including sections of its walls. Lithuanian and Polish preservationists worked on the project, but the work stopped when the war gained in intensity. After World War II, a major reconstruction project was begun in 1946; active work started in 1951-1952. The major portion of the reconstruction was finished in 1961. The castle was reconstructed in a 15th century style.
Trakai Island Castle is now a major tourist attraction of Lithuania. Since 1962 inside the castle is a museum of the history of Trakai and souvenir shops.
In the preparation of this article, were mainly used materials of websites: www.wikipedia.org and www.allcastles.ru.