Trakai Castle, Lithuania. Trakai Island Castle (Lithuanian: TrakÅ³ salos pilis) is an island castle located in Trakai, Lithuania on an island in Lake GalvÄ—. The construction of the stone castle was begun in the 14th century by KÄ™stutis, and around 1409 major works were completed by his son Vytautas the Great, who died in this castle in 1430. Trakai was one of the main centres of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the castle held great strategic importance.
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Trakai Island Castle was built in several phases. During the first phase, in the second half of the 14th century, the castle was constructed on the largest of three lake islands by the order of Grand Duke Kęstutis. The construction of Trakai Island Castle was related to the expansion and strengthening of the Trakai Peninsula Castle. Kęstutis moved his main residence and his treasury to the Island Castle.
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The castle suffered major devastation 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. Soon after the reconciliation between Jogaila and Vytautas, the second phase of construction started and continued until 1409. This phase is regarded as the major development in the history of the castle. Apparently, during the tru
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During the second phase, two wings were added, and on the southern side a 6-storey (35-metre or 115-foot high) donjon was built. The donjon had movable gates which separated the palace from the forecastle. The donjon was used for several functions; besides serving as another defensive structure, it had a chapel and living quarters. It was linked to the multi-storey Ducal Palace, which had an inner yard. The inner yard had wooden galleries, which ran around the inner wall; these galleries were us
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The entire southern wing of the southern palace was used for the Ducal Hall. This hall was around 10 by 21 metres (33 ft × 69 ft) in size, and only the Upper Palace in the Vilnius Castle Complex could surpass its proportions. The Ducal Hall has preserved some of its original alabar. Forecastle walls and corner tower. The principal construction material was so-called red Gothic bricks. Stone blocks were used only in the foundations and the upper parts of buildings, towers and walls. The ca
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The expansion of the forecastle in the early 15th century marked the third phase of Trakai's development. The walls of the forecastle were strengthened to a thickness of 2.5 metres and raised with additional firing galleries. Three major defensive towers were constructed on the corners. The southwestern tower was also used as a prison. The top story of the towers was designed for soldiers and housed a large number of cannons. A main gatehouse was also constructed which, along with the Ducal
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Trakai Island Castle lost its military importance soon after the Battle of Grunwald, when the chief enemy of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was defeated by the Lithuanian-Polish army. The castle was transformed into a residence and newly decorated from the inside. New frescos were painted on its walls, which have been partially preserved. Foreign emissaries were welcomed in the Ducal Palace. It is known that Jogaila visited the castle thirteen times between 1413 and 1430. In 1414, the Flemish trav
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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. Between 1935 and 1941, parts of the Ducal Palace walls were streng
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