Trakai Historical National Parkadminlithuania
There are 5 national parks and 32 regional parks in the Lithuanian Republic and these covers in total almost 11 percent of the whole of the country. Trakai Historical National Park is the smallest national park in Lithuania. This state-protected territory stands out from the rest in that it is centered on an ancient Lithuanian political center, Trakai, and has a unique natural landscape to preserve. Trakai Historical National Park was founded by the Lithuanian Restoration Seimas in order to preserve cultural sites of Lithuanian historical statehood along with their genuine natural environs. In this unique and compact ensemble of natural and cultural heritage, which reflects important periods and events in the history of Lithuania and eastern Europe as a whole, we can see a beautifully preserved cultural landscape centered on a historic town and castles which are nestled in lakeland. Here there are traditional agricultural villages, fieldscapes and areas where primeval natural formations still survive. The value of Trakai Historical Nation- al Park has been preserved finely and its special status has been recognized and protected by a
whole body of national legislation.
The landscape of Trakai Historical National Park exudes particular beauty; in part, this is natural and in part it is man-made. It covers an area of 8,200 ha which includes more than 32 lakes (occupying an area of 1,400 ha). The pre-Ice Age relief is responsible for the large formations which dominate the Park, namely the lakes and marshland, and hills which formed during the last Ice Age (between thirteen and fourteen thousand years BC). During the varied stages when the ice melted an undulating plateau formed in the southern part of the park with a chain of moraine hills. The morphological structure of this land relief is a unique feature of the formation of lakeland in the Baltic Uplands. Lying in the embrace of a water system comprising Galvės (361 ha), Skaiščio (286 ha), Bernardinų (88 ha) and Totoriškių (76 ha) Lakes is the old center of the town of (Naujieji [New]) Trakai (169 ha) with its Island and Peninsula Castles, which effectively form the kernel of the park ensemble. The town is girt by mixed woodland (3,900 ha) which gives way in the east to marshland, to a plateau in the south, and a contrasting hill and vale area to the north and west. This landscape, forms perfect conditions for a large variety of flora and fauna, which includes species of Europe-wide importance as well as many that feature in Lithuanian and European lists of rare species. The Park’s territory contains well-sited hill forts, castle sites, manors, traditionally appointed villages and isolated farmsteads. All the components of Trakai Historical National Park combine to form an integrated, holistic territorial and visual unit that leaves the visitor with an unforgettable impression. The natural treasures and the variety of the landscape, especially its specific land formations, provided favorable conditions for the human population, which settled within the modern Park’s territory 4,000 years before the Birth of Christ. Trakai attained a special significance in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries A.D., when the last pagan state in Europe, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, opposed crusade attempts to convert it to Christianity led by the Teutonic Order. Trakai is mentioned for the first time in writing sources in the Chronicle of Wigand of Marburg under the year 1337. Trakai had become an important defensive center close to the major grand ducal residence of Vilnius. A unified defensive system was built in Trakai, which was difficult to approach because of its natural defences of wood- and lakeland. The polytechnic town of (New) Trakai with its Lithuanians, Karaites, Tatars, Jews, Russians, Germans and Poles grew up beside the castles and had broad political and commercial links with European towns and their communities and traditions of medieval sacral, secular and defensive architecture, secular and religious art and literature. The town had a unique form of self-administration basedon Magdeburg Law and from the fifteenth century autonomous Christian and Karaite communities governed their own affairs. The majority of Trakai’s inhabitants (66.5%) are Lithuanian, although the town also has a substantial Polish minority (19%), as well as Russians (8.87%).