July 20, 2013

0123, 0225 & 0755 LITHUANIA (Vilnius) - Trakai Historical National Park (UNESCO - Tentative List)

0225 Trakai Historical National Park (2)

Posted on 13.02.2012, 27.05.2012, and 20.07.2013
Along the history, many territories located today in Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus were owned successively by one or other of them, whether they were called Kievan Rus, Kingdom of Poland, Grand Duchy of Lithuania or Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. If at all these "players" we add the allogeneous involved - from the east the Tatars and Grand Duchy of Moscow (become Russian Empire and later Soviet Union) and from the west the Teutonic Knights and Kingdom of Prussia (become Germany) - things get complicated in the region. So it's no wonder that Trakai was built and preserved by people of different nationalities, respectively Karaims, Tatars, Lithuanians, Russians, Jews and Poles (order is random).

0123 Trakai Historical National Park (1)

The town began to grow in the 13th century in the place named Senieji Trakai (Old Trakai), and was first mentioned  in 1337 in Teutonic Knights chronicles. When Grand Duke Gediminas has settled in Vilnius, Senieji Trakai was inherited by his son the Duke Kęstutis, who moved the town to its current location. A new castle was built in the strait between lakes Galvė and Luka, known as the Peninsula Castle, and another one, known as the Island Castle, on one of the 21 islands of Lake Galvė. At the end of the 14th century the town was in the center of a conflict between Grand Duke Jogaila and his uncle, Kęstutis. In 1392 the conflict has ended, and Kęstutis's son, Vytautas, became the Grand Duke of Lithuania.

0755 Trakai Historical National Park (3)

He spent much time in Trakai, even though its official capital was Vilnius. Here also he will die in 1430. In early 15th century he replaced the wooden fortress with a stone-built castle. Actually the principal construction material was red bricks, stone blocks being used only in the foundations and the upper parts of buildings, and.its style could be described as Gothic, with some Romanesque features. During the rule of Sigismund Augustus (r. 1548–1569), the castle was redecorated in a Renaissance style. After the establishment of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in 1569, the town's importance declined, the castle becoming a luxurious prison for the political prisoners.

It was refurbished by Sigismund I the Old, but after his death the castle gradually fell into disrepair. During the wars between Russia and Poland (1654-1667), the town was burnt, and both castles were demolished. After the Partitions of Poland (1795), the area was annexed by the Russian Empire, but after WWI the teritory was recovered by the restored Poland. In 1929, the Polish authorities began restoration of the Trakai Island Castle, and the works were almost complete in 1939, when the Polish Defensive War started and the area was soon annexed by the Soviet Union, then by Nazi Germany. After WWII it was again annexed by the Soviet Union, and many of the area's Polish inhabitants left in Poland.

In 1961, the reconstruction of the upper castle and a high tower construction were completed in a 15th century style. Works in the lower castle were not resumed until the 1980s and were completed by the Lithuanian authorities in the early 1990s. Trakai is now a part of Trakai Historical National Park, founded in 1991, the only historical national park not only in Lithuania but also throughout Europe.

About the stamp
On the postcards 0123, 0225

The stamp, issued on May 7, 2011, depicts Pope John Paul II in front of the cathedral in Vilnius and commemorates the visit of the pilgrim Pope in Lithuania in September 1993. 

On the postcard 0755
About this stamp, dedicated to the European Men's Basketball Championship 2011, I wrote here.

Sender 0123: Vaida Velutyte / Wai2le (postcrossing) LT-179765
Sent from Utena (Lithuania), on 21.01.2012
Sender 0225: Žymantas / Marionete (postcrossing) LT-198592
Sent from Vilnius (Lithuania), on 02.04.2012
Photo: Antanas Varanka
Sender 0755: Anne Hippe
Sent from Trakai (Lithuania), on 15.07.2013
Photo: Antanas Varanka 

1 comment: