The Hill of Crosses is 15 kilometers outside the small town of Siauliai in northern Lithuania, has thousands of crosses, creating an unprecedented and mysterious landscape!
The crosses, now more than 100,000, are symbols of the faith of the Lithuanians, but also a treasure for the independence of the country against oppression.
It is estimated that the crosses appeared at this point in the 13th century, shortly after the foundation of the city. Since then the number of crosses has varied.
In 1831, after the rebellion against Russia, crosses were placed to commemorate the memory of the dead and missing revolutionaries, and by the beginning of the 20th century their number was 150. In 1940 there were 400 and today, thousands.
The 1940 was a landmark for Lithuania. It enjoyed just over 20 years of independence after the First World War, despite having a period characterized by territorial differences with its neighbors and a coup in 1926.
However, after the invasion of Nazi Germany in Poland in 1939, things got worse. The USSR had made an agreement with Germany, and distributed the Baltic countries. In 1940, Lithuania joined the Soviet Union.
Then the agreement between the USSR and Germany was ignored, with the latter conquering it in 1941. Three years later the Germans retreated, and the Soviet Union once again captured Lithuania. During the four years of war and occupation, Lithuania lost 15% of its population.
Until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the hill of the crosses remained a reference point for the inhabitants. The Lithuanians insisted on pilgrimages, where they left their tributes.
The authorities saw it as a persistent attempt to react to the Communist regime and the hill was flattened three times. There were plans to create a dam from a nearby river to disappear under the water. But the plan was economically unprofitable.
Every time, however, when the hill was flattened out, dozens of crosses sprang up. In 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet Republic that declared its independence from the USSR. The Soviet Union responded with an economic blockade and assault on the capital’s TV tower, Vilnius.
However, in September 1991, Lithuania joined the United Nations. In August 1993, the last Soviet troops left the country. Just a month later, Pope John Paul II visited the Cross of the Cross. He wished the place to be a home for hope, peace, love and sacrifice.