Trakai In Your Pocket

First mentioned in 1337 by the Teutonic Knights and one of Lithuania’s former medieval capitals, despite being home to just 5,400 souls the town of Trakai and the national park it’s located in provide plenty of opportunities for visitors to experience and enjoy this unique part of the world. Crowned by a magnificent Gothic castle, the town of Trakai is well known for its many different inhabitants both past and present, among them Lithuanians, Jews, Poles (who still make up a substantial percentage of the population and who know the town as Troki), Russians, Tatars and the Lithuanian Karaite, an intriguing, Turkic-speaking offshoot of the larger Judaic Karaite movement who arrived in the town from the Crimea at the end of the 14th century and who are currently teetering on the border of extinction. Just 28km west of Vilnius, Trakai is both a tempting daytrip as well as a destination worthy of further attention thanks to the aforementioned park.