Hill of Crosses in Lithuania

Good morning.

I carry on with my stories about Lithuania and today I would like to tell you about an incredible place called Hill of Crosses.  Sometimes when travel I come across places that make me question many things about humanity. The most powerful so far was Auschwitz but today’s place is equally melancholic and sad.
The hill or rather two hilltops are situated among picturesque meadows, above the small Kulpa river, near the modest town of Meszkucie. In the Middle Ages it was a fortified settlement, and the first cross was put there just after the official baptism of Lithuania.

We arrived there on early Monday morning, and from our first look at the top, we had goosebumps and cramps in our throats. Everywhere we looked there were crosses, many crosses of various sizes, crosses lying, crosses hung one on top of the other, millions of crosses, made of wood crosses, metal, plastic crosses, an entire forest of crosses. An unbelievable place, a specific sanctuary of religious symbols and after seeing it, the picture of it became encrypted forever in our brains, regardless of whether we were Catholics, unbelievers, Buddhists or Jews. krzyże 3krzyże 4

krzyże1krzyże

The history of this place is so powerful.

It dates back to the November Uprising against Russian rule in 1830 when the official authorities forbade to put any religious symbols on the graves of killed and executed rebel soldiers. Desperate relatives and family members came to the hill with the crosses, and thus this enormous mausoleum was created. 399A0730
After the January Uprising in 1863, the number grew significantly, and in the following years, it constantly increased, because, after each deportation of someone to Siberia, the family was putting a cross here. The hills became a place of pilgrimage, but its fame alarmed the governor of Vilnius, Mikhail Muravyov, famous for the cruel suppression of the uprising in the Vilnius region. According to Wikipedia, 177 insurgents were hanged, 972 people were sent to forced labour, 345 were forcibly drafted into the army, 1427 were sent to Siberia, and 1529 were displaced in other places of Russia. Deportations and resettlement were simultaneously related to the confiscation of property of convicts. And that famous Muravyov ordered the destruction of the Hill of Crosses. However, after each removal of Crucifixes, new ones appeared in an ever-increasing number.krzyże6

Years passed but existence of Hills kept bothering Russians and after the war, the Soviet government again decided to liquidate this place of worship. The NKVD destroyed the crosses with a bulldozer and then burnt them. The new ones, however, stubbornly returned. In the seventies, the action was repeated. A real “war for crosses” lasted for the entire decade. During the day militia guarded the hill, but at night people brought crosses back, in the morning militia again destroyed them and at night people brought them back etc. etc. Finally, in 1980 the case went to an international human rights conference in Mexico. This was a huge scandal. The USSR was criticised for breaking the freedom of religion in Lithuania. The Soviet government gave up and allowed the hilltops to overlap with new crosses. After the declaration of independence by Lithuania in 1990, tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over Lithuania came to the Hill of Crosses to place their crosses there.399A0677

The history of this place made me think, but I’ve never regretted visiting it. So what are your thoughts on this place?

30 Replies to “Hill of Crosses in Lithuania”

  1. Wow! Sometimes, you can say that a place is beautiful or awesome and then you get to read the story of how it came to be and you get stumped. Hats off to the people and their faith. Despite being trampled over like that, they stood back up.

    Like

  2. I have never heard of the Hill of Crosses. Interesting history to say the least. It definitively makes you think, no matter where you stand on the subject of faith and religion.

    Like

  3. Such a fascinating history of that beautiful and yet solemn place. I really love the fact that the people rebelled and still wanted to display their faith in the face of oppression.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a moving story about the strong will of the people of Lithuania. My heart goes out to all Lithuanians.

    Like

  5. Wow. I was left speechless. The civilians of Lithuania demonstrated so much courage and tenacity for the sake of their faith and their loved ones. Very admirable. And it goes to show that if you’re passionate about something/someone, oppression will not prevail. It must have been a melancholic sight…but a profound one all the same. Thanks for sharing, nicely written and captivating images! (Chinedu, bloggers united)

    Like

  6. To miejsce zdecydowani robi wrażenie, choć rzeczywiście dużo tu smutku, rozmyślań i nostalgii. Super, że piszesz po angielsku, wielki szacun!!

    Like

  7. This is such a powerful testament to the faith of the people of Lithuania. They were not deterred by the danger of going up the hill and putting up these crosses, despite the area being guarded by the military.

    Like

  8. Nothing can destroy faith even if it has faced a lot of judgments and challenges through the years. I admire the people who have fought through it all and finally won. I bet this place is enlightening!

    Like

  9. Wow! This may sound ignorant but it looks like a place from one of the scenes in Vikinngs. I had no idea it was real!

    Like

  10. I am not religious but I do think that is an interesting insight into history and how the uprising prevented people from putting religious symbols on their loved ones fallen graves. It does seem quite morbid but fascinating nevertheless I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am not religious at all however for me it was like paying respect to all those people who died and they are being remembered there. But i wouldn’t force anyone to go there. Thank you for visiting

    Like

  12. I’ve never been here! I am not religious but this looks crazy! Not sure if I am freaked out or want to go and take photos aha

    Like

Please share with me what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: