Since this time of the year is about creepy and scary travels, I thought I would share one of our favorite, scary places in Europe – Witches Hill in Juodkrante, Lithuania. We love legends and fairy tales, so this is truly one of our favorite places.
If you know of any cool, local legends, please leave your comments below. We would love to hear about them!
Juodkrante is a sleepy little island village off the coast of Lithuania. It is located on a long, narrow island called Curonian Spit. It is made up of beautiful sand dunes and amazing pine forests. The only way to get to this island is via ferry, leaving the town of Klapedia, which makes this place even more magical. Lithuania is a country full of fairy tales and legends about its history, geography, and its people. Many of these amazing stories never make it outside of the country, often due to the language barrier; however, if you ever get the chance to sit and talk to a native Lithuanian, ask them about the amazing legends that surround their country.Witches Hill dates back hundreds of years ago when it was only a large sand dune. It overlooks the Baltic Sea on one side and the Curonian Lagoon on the other side. The hill became overgrown with huge pine trees that now stand as high as the eye can see. Listen closely – you can hear them whispering to you in the breeze.
Prior to WWI, Witches Hill was the setting for a festival called Jonines (St. John’s Eve). Lithuanians would come from miles away to join in the festival that took place every year on June 24th. There was music, dancing, and, of course, a cool reason for the festival – The Hunting of the Fern Blossom. You see, Witches Hill was always thought to be a magical place. It was a location that was not quite real; legend has it that the hill lies in a dimension between the mystical and the paranormal.
It is a hill where the witches, goblins, fairies, fortune tellers, and devils all come together each night after sunset. They party, drink, dance, gamble, and play cards. Most of all, they scare the wits out of any mortals that dare to enter the hill after dark! They roam the hill all night, frightening, confusing, luring, and tormenting any human who crosses their path. The only reprieve for all mortals is when the rooster finally crows at dawn. It was a warning to all party-goers of the pending sunlight that would soon pass over the hill. As soon as the rooster crows, all the magical and mystical beings disappear as if they had never been there at all.
However, on St. John’s Night, the shortest night of year, where the sun begins to set around 10:30 at night and starts to rise again before 4 a.m., the Lithuanian people are given a chance to join in the magical world of witches. It is on this night only that humans can go to the hill and be guaranteed that they would always return unharmed. On this one and only night, each year, the fern blossom suddenly blooms at midnight.Legend has it that if you are so lucky to find one, you will be granted unworldly powers. Your powers could be to see the future, talk to the animals, or even learn where ancient secret treasures are to be found around the world. The night is filled with magic and supernatural energy. Although the witches won’t harm the fern blossom hunters, they are waiting in hoping to confuse and scare off any mortals. Their job is to protect the magical blossom; so, beware and don’t talk to any strangers that appear from nowhere, especially witches.
Sadly, after WWI, this magical festival was stopped; however, the witches and devils still continue to meet on Witches Hill and be devilish after dark. Today, the hill is covered with over 80 wooden carvings that bring many of the amazing Lithuanian legends and fairy tales to life. Walking up the front side of the hill is bright and airy with lots of sunlight and magical carvings. You can see Egle, the Queen of the Grass Snakes, the storyteller, and even the magical fern blossom.
Once you reach the summit, and start to make your way down the back side of the hill, you will notice a different feeling. The sunlight seems to be hidden behind the trees, the wind picks up just a little bit, and the carvings are of gruesome things like Lucifer and the Gates of Hell, scary sorcerers, and wicked witches. Beware – you don’t want to get caught on this side of the hill after dark or you might never return. Hurry past the creepy carvings, dark trees, and staring goblins until you reach the rooster – he is the sign that daylight is coming and you are once again safe from the witches and devils.
Lastly, there is a playground of witches and goblins to lure the children into staying past sunset – so keep your children close and the alarm set before sundown… or you might not make it off Witches Hill alive.
A great way to travel to Lithuania is via ferry with DFDS Ferries. There is a ferry from Kiel Germany that goes to Klapeida Lithuania. You can drive your car on, sleep overnight in your own room, have breakfast and Viola you are in Klapeida, the main port, and beach town of Lithuania. You can even take your pets on board! This is our favorite way to travel back home!
Have you even been to Witches Hill, Lithuania? Would you go to Witches Hill after dark? Muwahhhh… be careful now.
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