The Hill of Crosses – national centre of pilgrimage in Lithuania
The Hill of Crosses is located near the small city of Šiauliai, and is an national centre of pilgrimage in Lithuania. The small hill is almost completely covered with hundreds of thousands of crosses that represent both Christian devotion and a memorial to Lithuanian national identity. As the years have progressed, the hill has become a symbol for the peaceful fortitude of Lithuanian Catholicism.
The hill is thought to have come into existence during the Polish and Lithuanian rebellion against Russian authorities in 1831 and 1863. When families couldn’t find their bodies of their deceased relatives during these uprisings, they put up symbolic crosses on the hill.
Hill of Crosses, Lithuania (A world made of despair)
The hill has been cleared of crosses several times — in 1961, 1973 and 1975 — mainly by Soviets who saw the crosses and an expression on Lithuanian nationalism. Each time, locals and pilgrims would replace the crosses.
The number of crosses is unknown, but in 2006 it was estimated to be around 100,000. There are a huge amount of different styles, designs, materials and sizes across the crosses. In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the hill and declared it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice.
You can get to the hill by bus from Šiauliai bus station. If visiting the hill, staying in Šiauliai is probably the easiest thing to do. There is also a lovely restaurant in Šiauliai, in front of Saules Miestas — it the perfect place to try traditional Lithuanian food of a great quality at a low price.