Hill of Crosses, Lithuania: Symbol of Faith & Resistance
About the Hill of Crosses:
This small hill near the Lithuanian town of Siauliai has enormous religious and political significance. As a small nation, Lithuania suffered many invasions and occupations over its history. This small hill (actually two small hills) has become a world-famous symbol of resistance to oppression.
The history begins in 1831, when hundreds of crosses were placed here to protest the fact the thousands of their countrymen had been deported to Siberia during an anti-Russian uprising. Again, another uprising in 1863 was similarly met with repression and the crosses appeared again. Over the next 100 years more and more crosses were placed there.
When the Soviet regime took over after World War II, the Communist authorities forbid anyone to go there….and punished those who did.
As the persecution worsened under the atheistic regime, thousands were exiled to Siberia and whole villages were rounded up. Yet this symbol of resistance remained. The Soviets brought in the army to bulldoze all the crosses, then later flooded the entire area. The last time the hill was bulldozed was in 1975, and yet the crosses kept coming back.
To see the spirit of the Lithuanian people in face of all this repression, and to read some of the heart-wrenching stories on the crosses is both saddening and inspirational. By the end of Communist rule there were reportedly over 50,000 crosses on the hill, and today, that number is probably 100,000.
It is a place of pilgrimage and hope for many. Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass here on his visit in 1993.
Traveling to the Hill of the Crosses:
The hill is located near the northern town of Siauliai, which has train service from several cities, especially Riga, Latvia. Get train schedules, fares and buy tickets here. From Siauliai it is about 7 miles to the Hill of the Crosses, so your best bet is to take a taxi.
Address: Jurgaičių, Meškuičių, Šiauliai 81439, Lithuania
Tel: +370 41 370860
Click here for a website for the Hill of the Crosses (use the small English-language link at the top of the page)