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Introducing Trakai

With its red-brick, fairy-tale castle, Karaites culture, quaint wooden houses and pretty lakeside location, Trakai is a must-see within easy reach of the capital.

Gediminas probably made Trakai, 28km west of Vilnius, his capital in the 1320s and Kęstutis certainly based his 14th-century court here. Protected by the Trakai Historical National Park (www.seniejitrakai.lt), spanning 82 sq km since 1991, Trakai today is a quiet town (outside summer weekends) blessed with lake views in all directions and filled with song each July during the Trakai Festival, which takes place at the Island Castle and features concerts and mock medieval battles.

Most of Trakai stands on a 2km-long, north-pointing tongue of land between Lake Luka (east) and Lake Totoriškių (west). Lake Galvė opens out from the northern end of the peninsula and boasts 21 islands.