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Once in Vilnius, don't miss a chance to also visit the former historic capitals of Lithuania all with their own charm and all in easy reach. VILNIUS AND MORE Mountains to become his bodyguards and guards of the castle. The Karaites were followed by the Tartars - offspring of the legendary Mongols professing Islam - followed by Catholic Lithuanians, Jews and Russian Orthodox who all began to settle in Trakai. This place witnessed the whole history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a Kenessa, a Synagogue, a Catholic and Orthodox Church stood beside one another here - a phenomenon that was very rare in Europe. Trakai The historical capital of Lithuania, located only 28 kilometres from the centre of Vilnius. Known as the town of lakes, its numerous waterways and hills give it a distinctive fairytale quality. The famous castle, the only castle built on the island, has stood here since the 15th century. Trakai is well- known for the country's smallest minority Karaites a Turkish ethnic group with fewer than 300 members. In the 14th century, Vytautas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, invited Karaites from Crimean

Kernave is the oldest of the former capitals of Lithuania having been first mentioned in 1279. With such a history it's now a small town of 300 people just 35 kilometres from Vilnius and with such a big reputation for archaeology that it's included in the UNESCO World Heritage listings. You may visit the museum of church relics in the old wooden presbytery in the very centre of the town or discover the more recent history of Church and Communism in the well- preserved economic- technical centre of the Soviet " kolhoz" to find out about economic life in the countryside in the more recent past. Hungry? It's time to visit the Kerniaus bar in the old mill. Eager for some active recreation? Ask at the bar for directions to a country estate whose owners will offer you a horse ride in Kernave woods or, in winter, a dog- drawn sled drive. If you would like to stay here in the calm of the countryside you can overnight in Bajoryne or a rural tourism homestead offering cosy accommodation. If you'd like to organise a complete tour talk to Taiga Euro Baltika: www. taigaeurobaltika. com office@ taigaeurobaltika. com Tel: + 370 5 2121 388 Fax: + 370 5 2121 713