Hill of Crosses

Hill of Crosses
No visit to Lithuania, so it’s said, is complete without a trip to the Hill of Crosses (Kryžių Kalnas), and whoever said it was right. Located some 12km north of Šiauliai on what some believe to be an ancient castle mound, its origins are a hotbed of dissent. Some argue that the first planting of a cross dates back as far as the Middle Ages, although no real evidence exists of any activity until 1831 when crosses were planted to mark the November Uprising. The hill only really got going after the death of Stalin in 1953, when Lithuanians returning from the gulags began planting crosses in memory of those who never returned. Numerous attempts by the Soviets in the 1960s to bulldoze it failed, with the crosses mysteriously reappearing immediately after every cull. In 1993 the late Pope John Paul II visited, and since then it’s become one of Lithuania's major tourist attractions. Visitors are welcome to add their own crosses, or to just walk around with their mouths wide open in awe of the place. To get there take a bus toward Joniškis from the bus station and get off at the large sign marked Kryžiu Kalnas (the Domantai stop) and walk a further 2km up the side road. By car, take the A12 (E77) north out of the city and look for the sign. A taxi from Šiauliai costs about 45Lt. Most drivers will be happy to wait while you look around so they can pick up the return fare.

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