On Friday, we took a private tour called “Three Capitals of Lithuania.” It was a pretty good deal: 160 euros for up to four people, with a private tour guide/driver, and it included a walking tour of the Old town, a trip to Kernave, and a trip to Trakai and the tours in both. I jumped on this opportunity because I wanted to visit Trakai – I remembered it since I was there a long time ago, probably forty years if not more.
It ended up being a decent tour. Granted, we had better tour guides in the past, but it was great to have a plan and to be able to visit two historical sites in one trip. I talked with our guide most of the way to get as much additional information about the past and present of the country as possible.
I thought I knew quite a bit about the history of Lithuania, but it turned out it was almost nothing. We knew it was the last European country to be baptized (in 1387). Still, we didn’t realize that the Great Duchy of Lithuania raised to its most might and glory being a pagan state. I am now reading about the history of Lithuania in the 13th and 14th centuries; how it took control over the Kievan Rus, which had already broken into multiple feudal states by that time. And the facts that I am reading about make me wonder who exactly stood against the Golden Hord and shielded the rest of Europe from the Mongols.
Lithuanians are cautious about using the ancient flag; as our guide said, “it was also an ancient Belarussian flag.” I believe that this goes more to whether the Great Duchy of Lithuania should be considered a Lithuanian or a Belarussian state. There was no written Lithuanian language until the end of the 19th century (same as with Finnish and Estonian languages). Our guide mentioned the official documents written in Polish, Latin, German, old Russian, and old Belarussian languages. And I already know that only about 10% of the Grand Duchy population were ethnical Lithuanians. I need to do a lot of reading to better understand that historical period, but at least I noted that I have a lot of blind spots in this area. And now – some pictures.
A tour of Vilnius Old town.
After Kernave, we went to our last destination – Trakai Castle