The Trakai National Park was designated in 1992 to embrace the historic city of Trakai, some 25 kilometers outside Vilnius, and the forests, lakes and villages in its environs. The total area of the park is 82 sq. kilometers. The most valuable monuments in the park are the Trakai insular castle, the remnants of the peninsula castle and the ancient site of the Senieji Trakai (Old Trakai) castle with a church and village. It was to the castle of Senieji Trakai that, according to old chronicles, the capital of Lithuania was transferred in the 14th century by the Grand Duke Gediminas. It was also there that the greatest Lithuanian ruler if all times, Grand Duke Vytautas was borne. Later, the capital was transferred to the castle situated on a peninsula between the lakes of Lukas and Galve. The castle was presumably one of the largest in Lithuania of those times and served as residence for a number of Lithuanian rulers before the insular castle was constructed a short distance away on an island of Lake Galve. It became the stronghold and residence of a number of Grand Dukes of Lithuania, including Kestutis and Vytautas. It was there that Vytautas died in 1430. Ruined during the wars in the 18th century, the castle is nearing its restoration and houses an impressive History Museum at the present time.
Trakai is a small town, its main attraction being the old part, notable for the wooden houses built by the Karaites, a tribe of Turkic people who were brought to Lithuania by Grand Duke Vytautas from the Crimea and who served as his bodyguards. the Karaites' house of worship, a kinessa, and a museum of Karaite culture are places worth visiting.
In and around Trakai there are about 20 lakes, the largest of them being Lake Galve, an established centre of water sports in Lithuania. Almost one-fifth of the park area is occupied by lakes. Forests take up one-third of the park territory. Trakai is increasingly becoming one of Lithuania's busiest recreation zones, hosting a number of international events every year, like the hot air balloon festival of 1990.
The environs of Trakai, with old villages and ancient castle hills, attract not only those interested in history but also numerous lovers of nature. In the Varnikai - Ilgelis and Plomenai nature reserves one can find a number of rare species of birds and plants. The Trakai National Park is visited by over 300 thousand people every year.