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The Hill of Crosses is a very powerful and spiritual site of pilgrimage in Lithuania, it is located in the Northern part of the country, it is easy to access it by car or by public transportation. There are thousands of crosses, it is hard to calculate the exact number but many people say there are more than one hundred thousand.
The hill of crosses is closely connected to the political history of this nation and in some ways is a symbol of their fight to keep their traditions and beliefs intact, from this point of view it is a very interesting place to visit not only for those looking for a religious experience, but for the ones who like to learn about the roots of a country.
It is said that the first crosses were left there after the uprising of 1853 as a way to honor those who died fighting for Lithuania. This is a country with a very complex history, changing hands frequently and experiencing some short periods of independence. The time that Lithuania was under Russian occupancy the Hill of crosses became once again very important. It was a peaceful way to protest an invasion they considered unfair. Several times even bulldozers were used to destroy the place, this happened during the night and the following day thousands of crosses made their way back again to this place.
It takes around 2 and a half hours driving from the capital Vilnius, it is a very flat land but still there is plenty of beauty and scenes of the rural life in Lithuania. One has to take highway A12 toward Riga, -very nice road- and then pass Siaulai, about ten kilometers later a sign is visible that states Kryzyu Kalnas (it means the hill of crosses) from there it is around five minutes. For those wanting to arrive by public transportation it is possible to use a combination of trains and buses, there are four trains leaving from Vilnius to Siauliai, at 06:45 am , 09:45 am, 14:20 pm and 17:40 pm, it costs around 15 USD. From the arrival train station the bus terminal is just minutes away. There go to platform 12, the bus is the one going to Joniskis, it costs around 1 USD, the bus stop stop is Domantai, the best thing is to show the driver a piece of paper with “Kryzyu Kalnas” and he will understand your destination The bus leaves at the following times: 7:25 (not on Sunday), 8:25, 10:25, 11:00, 12:15, 1:10, 2:15, 3:40, and 5:05. They will have information in the souvenir shop at what time buses are coming back.
For those driving, there is a parking lot, sometimes one has to pay around one or two euros, entering to the hill of crosses itself is free. There is as well a place to buy souvenirs or some snacks and of course crosses. Many of the visitors keep leaving there more crosses with their names and the date on which they visited the place. On some special dates religious ceremonies are celebrated.
This is a beautiful place and one of tremendous peace. A symbol of the endurance and the patience of a people to defend their values and a claim for freedom and respect. Certainly the Hill of Crosses is a must see when visiting Lithuania.