Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Trekking to Trakai after Fourteen Years

I first saw a picture of Trakai, a castle in Lithuania, nearly 14 years ago. And since then, I have looked at that picture almost every day.

You see, my wife's grandmother was an artist, and my wife used to live in Vilnius. So she sometimes took pictures of places she had visited and her grandmother would paint them.

The painting of Trakai is one of my favorites of all of her work. It hangs in our bedroom.

Yesterday, I finally got to see it in person.

The castle is beautiful. It sits on an island in the middle of Lake Galvė. It was started in the 14th century by Kęstutis, and completed around 1409 by his son Vytautas the Great, who died in the castle in 1430. But over the years, it fell into ruin.

It was the Soviets who finally restored the castle, but work on the restoration actually started in the 1880s, when its original frescoes were preserved and copied and the Imperial Archaeological Commission initiated the documentation of ruins. The Imperial Russian authorities decided in 1905 to partially restore the castle, and during World War I, Germans brought in their specialists, who also tried to restore it. Period work took place on the ruins before World War II, but obviously stopped during the war. A major reconstruction project was started in 1946, and the major portion of the reconstruction was finished in 1961. The Soviets finally finished it in 1987, and the wooden statue below, was erected in honor of to Vytautas the Great there in 1994 while my wife was there.

The trip was part of a whirlwind trip to Lithuania for the long weekend. I say whirlwind because we saw most of what was in a brochure my wife found at the tourist center called "Vilnius in 3 Days," and we saw much of it in an afternoon.

No wonder my feet hurt!!

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