Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
Situated at a distance of 12kms from the town of Siauliai in Lithuania, one of the most stunning religious sites attracts thousands of pilgrims and simply curious tourists every year. It is the Hill of Crosses – a unique monument of history and religious folk art. The hill is being considered as the symbol of the catholic soul and spirituality and also a symbol of the Lithuanian resistance against the Soviet power.
The Hill of Crosses is a stunning complex that consists of thousands of crosses of various materials and sizes brought and left there by the people, mostly Lithuanians. It is yet unclear how such tradition had started but one version assumes that it could be related to the Lithuanian tradition of leaving the crosses on the road and most beautiful sites. The hill is only 8-10 meters high and 40-50 meters wide. The site used to be a location of a castle of Semigallian tribe until it was burned down by the Crusaders.
Hill of Crosses – History
Over time it became a highly religious site for the local and foreign Catholics to visit. In 1990, 130 crosses were recorded to be located at the hill. The biggest significance regarding the hill is related to the period of the Soviet occupation (1944-1990) where the authorities tried to destroy the site due to the Soviet anti-religion and anti-nationalism policy.
The Soviet authorities attempted to bulldoze the crosses several times but they kept appearing again and again despite the site being monitored by the guards, as it was the way of Lithuanian nation showing their disagreement with the existing government. Similarly, the hill was soon covered in thousands of new crosses after the fire in 2007. The visit of the Pope John Paul II was one of the most significant events in the history of the site.
Nowadays, more than 100,000 crosses have been placed in the site. Everyone can leave a cross among the others. You can either come with your own cross or purchase one in the local nearby market as some truly beautiful carved crosses handmade by the local masters can be bought. It does not matter whether you are a believer or not – the hill of crosses will leave anyone breathless and is definitely a must see site when visiting Lithuania.