Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view

Trakai Castle: Lithuania’s Medieval Capital

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My own posts on Trakai are here and here

Lost Postcards

IMG_0384Trakai Island Castle was one of the sites I wanted to visit the most on my first excursion to Lithuania. Trakai was at one time the capital of Lithuania and served as a major center for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Lithuania only ever had one king and then was ruled by dukes onward). The castle was first built in the 14th century and is unique as it sits on a small island in the middle of Lake Galve. Trakai Castle’s location gave it strategic importance during wars and military campaigns as it was very difficult to capture.

The castle unfortunately fell into disrepair sometime after the 17th century and it wasn’t until the late 19th century that preparations were made to start restoring it. It took over a hundred years to complete the restoration due to both world wars and funding. The restoration was complete by the early 1990s…

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Karaim in Trakai

I’ve posted about Trakai before and mentioned the cornish-pasty like dish called a kibinas. These were introduced into Lithuania by the Karaims

The Lithuanian Karaims (Karaites) are believed to have come from Crimea near the Black Sea  to serve as the Grand Duke’s elite bodyguard in the 14c. (Click here for more historical background).

CNV00006CNV00008CNV00009There is still a small community in Trakai and a row of their tradition wooden houses with 3 downstairs windows on the main street as you can see from these pictures, taken on my first trip there in 2006.

The story is that one window was for God, one for their ruler Vytautas the Great,  and one for themselves.

CNV00004 - Version 2There is also a kenesa or synagogue nearby. There were several of these kenesas built in Lithuania in the 14c but now there are only two; this one and  one in Vilnius across the river from the parliament buildings on Liubarte street (not far from the Orthodox church).


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On the water in Trakai

DSCN1077This is about the first sight you see of the castle in Trakai when you get off the bus.

DSCN1025This was 2012 and my third trip there so after nourishing ourselves on soup, kibinai and a beer we hired a boat for a row round the lake.

DSCN1057DSCN1054The shots below show some of the bigger craft by the entrance to the castle, the one that looks like a paddle boat sponsored by our favourite beer – Švyturys.


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Kenesa in Vilnius

CNV00018_5This is a Kenesa or Persian synagogue built in 1922 for the Karaims (or Karaites) who originally came from what was Mesopotamia (now Iraq).

Kenesa comes from the Aramaic word for assembly and is the source of the Hebrew word for synagogue beit knesset and the name of the Israeli parliament the Knesset.

The Lithuanian Karaims are believed to have come from Crimea near the Black Sea  to serve as the Grand Duke’s elite bodyguard in the 14c.

There were several of these kenesas built in Lithuania in the 14c but now there are only two; this one across the river from the parliament buildings on Liubarte street (not far from the Orthodox church) and one in Trakai, where there are also Karaim exhibits in the castle museum. And don’t forget the origins of the kibinas!

The Karaims survived the holocaust during the Nazi occupation as they aren’t technically jewish because  they don’t follow the Talmud but still suffered as a minority (and there are perhaps only 500 still existing in Lithuania).


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Lithuania: the best country you’ve never been to

Continental Breakfast Travel

Lithuania is a small country that packs a big punch: an exciting history, beautiful scenery you won’t find anywhere else, and an amazing pizza chain.

How: Ryanair fly to Vilnius from Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, Luton, Stansted. Wizzair fly from Doncaster/Sheffield and Luton. Wizzair fly to Vilnius from Doncaster/Sheffield and Luton. Ryanair fly to Vilnius from Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick and Stansted.
Where: Klaipeda Hostel, Buktu Juzes str. 4-7, Klaipeda. Hostelgate, Šv. Mikalojaus gatvė 3  Vilnius 01133.
When: I was in Lithuania from 29th April – 5th May 2011.
Weather: One day of glorious sunshine. One morning of snow. Chilly, with rain.
Intinerary: Three nights in Klaipeda (both days spent on Curonian Spit), bus to Šiauliai then bus to Vilnius (same day), three nights in Vilnius (two days Vilnius, one day Trakai).

Firstly, I apologise if you have in fact been, however, I’m a little bit in love with Lithuania. Having…

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Cornish pasties get protected status

Mike the Psych's Blog

Cornish pasties have now got protected status under the EU Protected Geographical Indication rules which lay down the composition and appearance of this working man’s delicacy. So, just like Cornish clotted cream, Cornish pasties can only be made in Cornwall.

There are 40 or so British food products similarly protected but we are way behind the French and Italians in this regard.

It is estimated that 87 million pasties are produced every year. From mid-March, when their protected status comes into force, they must have fillings of beef, potato, onions and swede, a light seasoning and no additives or preservatives. They are cooked in a semi-circular shape with a crimped edge and glazed with milk or eggs to give it that golden brown colour.

The pasty was ideal for the miners as it was a self-contained meal which they could easily carry. There are claims that they have found remains…

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