Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses

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Hill of CrossesThere are tens of thousands of crosses planted on a hillside in Lithuania. The Hill of Crosses (Kryžiu Kalnas) is located in northern Lithuania near Šiauliai – the fourth largest city in the country. No one knows for sure why the custom started, but the crosses began appearing in the 14th century. Over the years, pilgrims journeyed there to place their own cross on the hill.

The city of Siauliai was founded in 1236 and controlled by Teutonic Knights during the 14th century. The tradition of placing crosses seems to date from this period and may have risen as a symbol of Lithuanian defiance toward foreign invaders. Since the medieval period, the Hill of Crosses has represented the peaceful resistance of Lithuanian Catholicism to oppression. In 1795, Siauliai was incorporated into Russia but was returned to Lithuania in 1918. Many crosses were erected upon the hill after the peasant uprising of 1831-63. By 1895, there were at least 150 large crosses, in 1914, 200, and by 1940 there were 400 large crosses surrounded by thousands of smaller ones.

crosses on a hillAfter being captured by Germany in World War II, the city suffered even more damage when Soviet Russia retook it at the war’s end. From 1944 until Lithuania’s independence in 1991, Siauliai was a part of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. During the Soviet era, the pilgrimage to the Hill of Crosses became expression of Lithuanian nationalism. The Soviets repeatedly removed the crosses placed on the hill by Lithuanians.

The hill was leveled three times: during 1961, 1973 and 1975. The crosses were burned or turned into scrap metal, and the area was covered with waste and sewage. Following each of these agonizing experiences local inhabitants and pilgrims from all over Lithuania rapidly replaced crosses upon the sacred hill. In 1985, the Hill of Crosses finally found peace. The reputation of the hill has since spread all over the world and every year it is visited by many thousands of visitors.

The size and variety of crosses is as amazing as their number. Beautifully carved out of wood or sculpted from metal, the crosses range from three meters tall to the countless tiny examples hanging profusely upon the larger crosses.

It is a wonder that the instrument of torture on which Jesus died has become the greatest symbol of Christian hope.

He is Risen.

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About Dr. Bruce

Information Security Consultant | Hunger Advocate | Husband | Father | Christ-follower

55 Responses to “Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses”

  1. this is such a beautiful expression of devotion. I would love to visit this site one day and experience the connection with so many who went before me who adore Jesus.

  2. Thank YOU for this article. Today i saw a couple of hill of crosses fotos in my church video ( Scotsdale first assembly of God in Arizona) was moved in spirit.
    i was reading comments and whoever wason the hill in windy day, really can be moved by the sound around. Like chimneys the crosses singing praises to the Lord or craing out the pain, that we, humans, have in this not perfect world.

  3. blah blah wow…
    THE CROSSES IN LITHUANIA REPRESENT THE SUN!
    jesus and jew lovers get over yourselves! Alot of IGNORANT brainwashed comments most of which are politically or religiously warped perspectives, i aint judging any of you fools but if anyones done with your petty arguments and praising,

    THE REALITY OF THIS PHOTO IS: that lithuanians culture along with the symbol of the cross pre dates any christian jewish or muslim religion,
    fact is that these religions stole the mythological storys and symbols from pre existing cultures to justify wars duhhhhh….

    FYI these crosses are representation from the pagan times IN: lithuania (before gods sent “crusaders” who came slaughtering anybody that didnt love jesus!)
    back when people belived and praised the SUN! CERTANLY not any roman tourture devices or such, YET still to this day people shamelessly hold there holy day on SUN day the pagans most important “god”,

    SEEMS Y’ALL JUST A BUNCH OF UNEDUCATED HICKS!

    dont belive me? google “lithuanian crosses” and tell me what you think they represent

  4. I love crosses
    Soon time. 2012

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