On the Road: Hill of Crosses, a Sacred Site for Pilgrims

Located in the north of Lithuania, Siauliai is the perfect hub for a visit to one of the highlights in this baltic country: the Hill of Crosses (Kryziu Kalnas). The Hill of Crosses is, as the name says, a small hill with a peculiar feature: it´s a sacred site filled with crosses.

All kind of crosses: tiny or giant; metal or wood; simple or figurative. According to the lithuanian authorities, more than 200 thousand crosses were planted by pilgrims from all over the world. [you can see the full photo report here]

In fact, wandering through the small paths of the Hill of Crosses, I could find crosses filled with promises written in different languages. Not only in lithuanian or english but also in russian, spanish, french, polish, portuguese…

Although the origin of the Hill of Crosses remains uncertain, I read it started in the XIX century, when Lithuania was part of Russian Empire and catholicism faced threats in the country. As result of a rebellion against russian authorities, lithuanian families could not bury bodies of the perished rebels, so they started to locate crosses over this hill. Destroyed several times during the time Lithuania was part of Soviet Union, the Hill of Crosses was constantly rebuilt.

The Hill of Crosses had a double effect in me: from the outside it looks one of the most bizarre places to be, however, once I walked by this forest of crosses, a feeling of serenity seized upon me and I could admire the beauty around. Surrounded by so many crosses, I felt be in a mysterious and surreal place.

The Hill of Crosses are, definitely, a place you won´t regret to visit if you are in the Baltic. I went there from Riga. Latvian capital has direct buses daily to Siauliai. 

And of course, I took this chance to discover Siauliai: the fourth biggest city in Lithuania is a pleasant place to roam. As I went there to visit The Hill of Crosses, I didn´t have anything planned to Siauliai.

Sometimes it’s amazing to discover a city with no pressure, no plans to follow or places to go. Maybe that’s why I came with the feeling this city was very quiet, full of tree leaves from the fall and great sidewalks to admire.

The local architecture is Baltic typical, wooden buildings and some art nouveau. I believe the highlight of the city is the ‘Cockerel Love Clock’, a public clock that is the meeting point of the locals, specially dedicated to the ones in love. 

Once in Siauliai there you have three options to reach the Hill of Crosses:

a) Cycle/Walk 12 kilometers in this northward pilgrim path that lie on the side of the main road;

b) Jump in one of the dozen buses from Siauliai bus station to Joniskis and get off at the Domantai stop, from where you can get the last 2 kilometers of the pilgrim path;

c) By taxi, you should expect to pay 20 euros.


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9 responses to “On the Road: Hill of Crosses, a Sacred Site for Pilgrims

  1. One of the highlights of my time in the Balkans. The transport over wasn’t easy, but worth it once I arrived. Definitely a fascinating and haunting place!

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