KRYŽIŲ KALNAS

We have arrived at the site in the late afternoon when the sun created a great light and shadows play at The Hill of Crosses. It is a Christian pilgrimage site with a collection of over 100,000 wooden crucifixes and other religious icons erected on a hill outside the city of Šiauliai in northern Lithuania. It is one of the most spectacular sights in the Baltic countries. The exact origins of Kryžių Kalnas, the Hill of Crosses, remain a mystery. The crosses are thought to have first started appearing after the 1831 uprising against Russian ruling. Relatives, with no bodies to bury, erected crosses and crucifixes on the hill. The hill was bulldozed twice during a later Russian occupation as religion was forbidden but Lithuanians continued to sneak to the hill and plant the crosses despite KGB agents patrolling the area. When Lithuania obtained its independence in 1991 the hill came to signify identify, religion and heritage for Lithuanians. Pilgrims continue to descend to plead with Jesus for miracles.