The Hill of Crosses, or Kryziu Kalnas in Lithuanian, is a collection of over 200,000 wooden crosses erected on a small hill in Šiauliai in Northern Lithuania. It is one of the most spectacular sights in the Baltic countries. Easily accessible from Riga, Kaunas and Vilnius, the Hill of Crosses is a bizarre sight and one which is worth the jaunt from the Baltic cities. Here’s our guide on visiting the Hill of Crosses with everything you need to know for your visit!
The Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses is a Christian pilgrimage site with a collection of over 200,000 wooden crosses erected on a small hill in Lithuania. 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.
Another legend describing the origin of the crosses relates to a Lithuanian farmer whose daughter was extremely ill. One night he had a dream in which a white clothed woman appeared and told him to make a wooden cross and place it on a nearby hill. If he followed her instructions his daughter would be cured. He did as he was told and returned home to find his daughter in good health. Others flocked to the hill to place crosses in the hope that similar miracles would be granted to them.
One of the most famous crosses at the site is a statue of Jesus sitting under a roof. The statue is said to symbolise Jesus worshipping in secret and reflects the time when religion was banned in Lithuania.
The religious significant of the site was apparent when Pope John Paul II visited in 1993 and declared it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice. He served mass on the hill and named Lithuania the country of crosses.
Visiting the Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses is an eerily beautiful place to visit. Small paths mark the way through the maze of crosses. The chilling Lithuanian wind cuts across the exposed site and the crosses chime in the wind creating an almost other worldly effect. The number of crosses continues to grow today with visitors leaving crosses at the site in a tribute to loved ones or in a request for their own intentions. Local people produce the crosses from word turning and we stopped at the entrance to purchase some crosses of our own to leave at the Hill.
The Hill of Crosses is a must see on any Baltic road trip and we were in awe as we wandered among the thousands of crosses of every shape and size.
How to get to the Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses is located 12 km outside of the city of Siaulia. Siaulia is easily accessible by train and bus from Vilnius and by bus from Riga and Kaunas. From Siaulia, it is a short taxi or bus ride to the Hill of Crosses or the journey can be made by bike or walking when the weather permits. Read on for more details on how to get to the Hill of Crosses from Vilnius, Riga and Kaunas. Check out this detailed guide on how to get to the Hill of Crosses from Vilnius, Riga and Kaunas for more information on the trains and buses.
If you have a rental car it’s an easy drive to the Hill of Crosses. We stopped at the Hill of Crosses during our drive from Riga to Kaunas on a road trip through Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
For more articles on the Baltic countries check out
- our Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia road trip itinerary
- the top things to do in Vilnius
- a detailed guide on how to get to the Hill of Crosses from Kaunas, Vilnius and Riga