Lithuania is a country in Europe and is known for its culture, food, and breathtaking beaches. Lithuania is also known as the only country in the world that has its own official scent called the Scent of Lithuania.
An aerial shot showing the capital of Lithuania. (Link: https://technical.ly/2018/02/02/lithuania-vilnius-innovation-tech-startup-cluster/)
One more famous thing that Lithuania is known for is the Hill of Crosses. It’s mysterious, allegedly miraculous and reportedly ghostly.
Some of the crosses at the Hill of Crosses. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g274951-d14895965-i334436061-Private_Tours_Lithuania-Vilnius_Vilnius_County.html)
The History Of Hill Of Crosses
The Hill Of Crosses, which is located outside the northern city of Šiauliai, is full of not only crucifixes and crosses but also statues of the Virgin Mary, rosaries, and even carvings of Lithuanian patriots.
The Virgin Mary at the Hill Of Crosses. (Link: https://library.panos.co.uk/search/photos/hill%20of%20crosses.html)
It is unclear when people started placing such items on the hill but many believe that the first crosses were placed there after the 1831 Uprising against the Russian authorities. Accordingly, families could not locate the bodies of the rebels who died fighting against the Russians so they placed crosses on the hill to symbolize the loved ones who perished. More crosses were placed in 1863 during the second successful uprising.
Another part of the Hill Of Crosses. (Link: http://catholicleader.com.au/people/the-hill-of-crosses-a-mountain-of-faith)
It is unclear how many crosses are at the Hill of Crosses but the last estimate back in 2006 was 100,000. The most significant years related to the Hill of Crosses was from 1944 to 1990 because Lithuanians continued to travel to the hill to leave their tributes so as to signify their allegiance to the country’s original heritage, identity, and religion since they were occupied by the Soviet Union. The Soviets then tried to remove the crosses by bulldozing the hill three times but the Lithuanians did not give up.
By September 7, 1993, the Hill of Crosses was visited by Pope John Paull II. He then declared the hill as a place for hope, love, peace, and sacrifice. The hill is not under anyone’s jurisdiction thus anyone can build crosses and place other religious items on the hill.
The Hill of Crosses at night. (Link: http://www.thebohemianblog.com/2015/11/the-hill-of-crosses-a-monument-to-lithuanian-independence.html)
Since then, the Hill of Crosses became a symbol of the Catholicism belief of Lithuanians and the proof of how their peaceful endurance and determination paved way for their independence.
Other Stories About The Hill Of Crosses
While many people believe the story of the Hill of Crosses as stated above, one local artist and historian identified as Vilnius Puronas has another story. He claims that the hill was once the place where a church stood. However, one terrible storm took place and lighting struck the church. Eventually, the church became buried under a heap of sand and rock while many people were still inside.
Another story involves a father and a daughter. Accordingly, the daughter became very sick and the father saw a vision. The vision came when his daughter was on her deathbed. The man claimed that in his vision, women told him to assemble a wooden cross and place it on a hill. The women allegedly told the father that if he did such act, his daughter would get well. Soon after he placed a cross on the hill, he went home and found his daughter in perfect health. Because of this story, others started placing crosses on the hill.
The Ghosts At The Hill Of Crosses
Because of the story of Vilnius Poronas, it is believed that those who died during the storm are the ones who are seen by some locals at a ghostly procession of monks at the foot of the hill during sunrise.
The Hill of Crosses at sunrise. (Link: http://www.visitlithuania.net/don-t-miss/siauliai-around/132-hill-of-crosses)
The Hill Of Crosses Today
Lots of people who have visited the Hill of Crosses said that the detour is worth it. Although it is interesting and magnificent, it is a bit of a strange place.
The Hill of Crosses has a souvenir shop, has toilets, and parking areas. People have to pay for such services but the entrance is for free.
A photo showing a stall of a vendor at the Hill of Crosses. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/385057836862597546/)