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The small city of Trakai is Lithuania's former capital. It is situated in a lovely area of lakes and islands, 25 km west of Vilnius. Parts of Trakai sit on a peninsula, which is dotted with old wooden cottages. Many of these cottages were built by the Karaites, a Judaist sect that originates in Baghdad and adheres to the Law of Moses. Vytautas the Great brought the Karaites to Trakai, around 1400 AD, to serve as his bodyguards. Nowadays only about 100 of their descendants live in the city, but their numbers are dwindling rapidly and Lithuania's smallest ethnic minority is eventually thought to die out. There is a small Karaites Museum in Trakai, as well as a 19th-century Karaites prayer house.

There are several hotels and restaurants in town, but most people prefer to stay in Vilnius and visit Trakai on a day trip. Trakai has train and bus connections with the capital.


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