Taking into account the specificity of the site, to show respect for the memory of Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania and the Karaim people still living in Trakai, the public space at Karaimų Street57A, Trakai, has been renamed the Vytautas the Great Shore.

The international project "Opening up the cultural heritage of Trakai and Giżycko for tourism" was implemented as part of the cooperation between Trakai District Municipality and Giżycko, a partner town in Poland. The project resulted in the creation of a new attraction space on the plot of land at 57 A Karaimų Street. Many people have already fallen in love with the walking paths and pontoon bridge on the shores of Lake Galvė, which have been transformed beyond recognition, and from which they can enjoy a magnificent view of Trakai Island Castle and the Užutrakis Manor. It's not just peaceful relaxation that attracts visitors, but also the cultural events that take place here.

It is said that in the past, passengers used to water their horses at the junction between Totoriškės and Galvė lakes. At that time, the local language name was Vodopoj ( "Drinking place"). It should be noted that this public space is located in the part of the former Karaite town (Small Town) opposite Trakai Island Castle. The Karaims say that the inhabitants of the surrounding area used to water their horses here on their way from the villages to the church, and they also have a legend about how the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas, saved the Karaim town from a flood by watering his horse.

The magical horse of Grand Duke Vytautas

Like the scourge of God, Grand Duke Vytautas pursued the nomadic Tartar hordes across the vast southern steppes and quickly extended the borders of the Duchy of Lithuania all the way to the Black Sea.

By following the Duke's will, his invincible army would leave the hearths of their homes for long periods of time, and the news of the invincible Duke would reverberate far beyond the borders of his homeland. Once upon a time, the Grand Duke's army left Lithuania and soon its footsteps disappeared into the vastness of the steppes.

The hot summer passed, the golden autumn quickly passed and the whole of Lithuania was covered in a thick blanket of white snow, but there was no news of the men who left. After a harsh winter, the snow was melting fast under the warm spring sun. The rivers began to shed their water, the snow began to melt in the depths of the forests, and the ice of Lake Galvė crumbled. The water of the flood was running and running in rivulets into the melted lakes. The water of the lakes rose, and the Galvė and Totoriškės lakes merged, forming one endless expanse of water, glittering with silver. The water flooded the whole of Karaimschizna and its poor sheds were covered with water. The people were terrified. Women with children in their arms, defending their livestock, old men rushed to higher ground, anxiously looking for a way out of the desperate situation. Realising the hopelessness of their situation, they decided to ask Grand Duke Vytautas, their patron and intercessor, for help. Without waiting long, they boarded boats and sailed to the castle, landing at the iron-wrought gates. Seeing the crowd gathering through his windows, the Duke ordered the drawbridge to be lowered, the heavy gates to be opened, and the unexpected guests to be brought to him.

"Great Duke, our Sovereign, let your name be pronounced with reverence by your humble subjects," the people said.

"May God not forsake you, my beloved children," the newcomers heard the Duke's response in their own language.

"Help us, O Great Ruler of nations," the women pleaded. - It is a year since our men and brothers went out to fight Your enemies, and to this day there is no news from them. And our dwellings are being swallowed up by the waters, and there is no one to save us. Thou Father, our Ruler, leave not thy people in trouble."

The Duke looked out of the castle window, and deep wrinkles creased his forehead. The endless expanse of water glittered like a jewel around him, and only in the distance could he see the hilly coastline with the tower of Kenesa. The Duke did not think long how to help his people, and said calmly, "Do not be afraid, go with God, I will be with you shortly."

People did not have to wait long. Before the crowd could reach the shore, Vytautas appeared in the distance on his warhorse. All Lithuania was well aware of the magical qualities of this horse. The old men told the children in whispers that the Samogitian sorcerers had brought this horse as a gift to Grand Duke Vytautas.

As soon as Vytautas reached the shore, he turned his horse to the shore and, gently stroking its neck, began to water it. And a miracle happened, the water level began to drop rapidly. Soon, the wetted huts emerged, a narrow strip of peninsula appeared between the lakes, and finally the whole of Karaimschizna became visible in a narrow, meandering strip.

The Karaites were surprised: "Tyrylgiej bijimiz! That's a Duke, that’s our Father! May His name be remembered forever. May the tale of his miraculous horse remain forever in the memory of our descendants."

When they recovered from astonishment, they rushed to thank the Duke, but his footsteps had long since disappeared.

Having done his master's will, the magnificent horse galloped off and disappeared behind a green forest.

The happy women rushed to the house without a second thought, and the old men were still shaking their grey heads in wonder at the miracle. They decided that there could not have been a different horse for such a great lord.

The next morning, a rumour spread among the locals that another lake, with the magical smell of the Duke's horse, had joined all the lakes in Trakai. It is a strange lake, where no water lilies bloom, no fish swim, not even a bird dares to fly over its waters.

The Karaite legend was written down in the words of S. Kharčenka by A. Šišmanas, who lived in Trakai.

Translated by Nadezhda Zajančkovskaja

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