The 14th century town of Trakai was one of Lithuania first capitals, and has two lakeside castles, which were destroyed in the 17th century, and only ruins remain. The restored island castle was built in the Brick Gothic style on a little island in Lake Galve. At the end of the 14th century, when Lithuania expanded its territories as far as the Black Sea, this castle became the residence of the Lithuanian Grand Dukes. Trakai is also home to Karaites, a Turkish ethnic group practicing a religion akin to Judaism, who came to Lithuania from the Crimea in the 14th century as warriors for Grand Duke Vytautas. He brought home 330 Karaim families, whom he settled in Trakai in accordance with the state policy to populate empty areas in order to build towns and develop economic life.
Today the numbers of Karaim are dwindling. There are only a few hundred in all of Lithuania, with about 80 still living in Trakai. The religious temple of the Karaims is called the Kenesacompare( to kenisah, the Arabic word for church). There are only 3 Karaim Kenesa left in the world; the oldest one is in Trakai.