TRAKAI CASTLE (Lithuania)
The Trakai Island Castle, ordered by Grand Duke Kestutis, was built in the 14th century on the largest of Lake Galvé islands. It was destroyed during a Teutonic Knights attack in 1377. After the assassination of Kestutis followed a power struggle between Jogaila and Vytautas the Great for the title of Grand Duke of Lithuania. Then a second phase of construction started in which a 35m high donjon and two extra wings were added. The donjon sheltered a chapel with living quarters. It was linked to the multi-storey Ducal Palace. The overall style of the castle can be described as Gothic with some romanesque features.
The expansion of the castle in the 15th century marked the 3rd phase of its development. The walls were strenghened to a 2.5m width and provided with additional firing galleries. Three defensive towers were constructed in the corners, one of them serving as a jail. A moat was dug between the Ducal Palace and the Castle, just wide enough to let small boats sail through. The gates, connecting the two buildings, could be raised in case of ennemy attack.
Soon after the battle of Grunwald, the castle was transformed into a residence and redecorated inside. Foreign emissaries were lodged in the Ducal Palace. During the wars with Muscovy in the 17th century the castle was damaged and fell into disrepair.
In the 19th century, reconstruction plans were prepared but it was only in 1905, under the Imperial Russian Authorities, that the ruins were partially restored. Between 1935 and 1941, parts of the Ducal Palace walls were strenghened by Lithuanian and Polish preservationists. Unfortunately, the second world war stopped the work. Major reconstruction was undertaken in 1951-52 and completed in 1961.
The castle was reconstructed in a 15th century style. It is now a major tourist and events attraction.
For more information : visit official website