What You Should Know About the Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

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Hey there! Thanks for stopping by! I’m Stacey, and we lived in Lithuania for two years for my husband’s basketball career ! Since he is Lithuanian, I got some amazing, inside views and stories on this gorgeous country. So here is a totally guide on what you should know about the Hill of Crosses.

What you should know about the hill of Crosses Lithuania

We have been to the Hill of Crosses many times. I have also heard many stories about the hill from my husband’s family members, so I thought it would be a great idea to share those stories with all of my readers.

What you Should Know about

The Hill of Crosses, Lithuania 

Hill of Crosses Lithuania

Facts About the Hill of Crosses

1. The Hill of Crosses currently has over 100,000 crosses from all over the world. There are actually too many to count.

2. The first cross was put there in the 1800’s.

3. There are two stories that go with the hill – a story of faith and healing & a story of nationalism and the fighting spirit of the Lithuanian people.

Tour of the Hill of Crosses

To find out exactly what you should know about the Hill of Crosses, take a day trip with a local guide! You will get transportation and all the information to really understand he history behind the Hill.  For day trip from Vilnius to The Hill of Crosses, you can reserve tickets here .


History of the Hill of Crosses

The first story is that a Lithuanian farmer had a very sick daughter who was going to die. He tried every kind of medicine and went to every doctor he could find. No matter what he did, her health just got worse. Every night, he sat by her bedside, holding her hand, wishing she would get better.

One night, while sitting by her bed, he fell asleep. That night he had a dream. In his dream, a woman dressed in all white came to him and told him that if he wanted his daughter to get better he had to follow her instructions. He was told to build a large wooden cross. He was then to take the wooden cross across the country and place it on a hill. It would be a sign of faith and love for God, and if he did this his daughter would be healed.

He had no other options at this point and decided to build the cross. He carried the cross 13 hours each way to Siauliai. Here, he put the wooden cross up on the hill. Tired and worn down, he started his long journey home.

When he finally reached his hometown, his wife and daughter were both waiting for him. They had amazing news – his daughter had somehow been cured of her illness! She was out of bed, awake, and joyfully awaiting his return!

The story of the miracle hill spread throughout Lithuania. People would pilgrimage to the site and place a cross on the hill hoping it would also cure their sick loved ones. It became the Hill of Crosses that performed miracles!

What you should know about the hill of Crosses Lithuania

4. The second story: For those of you who do not know a lot about Lithuanian history, they have a long and sordid past with the Soviet Union dating back to the 1800’s. In the 1800’s, Lithuania had been occupied and were under Russian regime. The official religion was Russian Orthodox, and the official language was Russian. They were forbidden to practice any other religion, hang any crosses, or speak any other language other than Russian in public.

During this occupation, in both 1831 and 1863, the Lithuanian people formed a rebel army and tried to take back their country. The rebel fighters took up arms against the Soviet Union and fought for their freedom.

Many men were killed, and families could not locate the bodies of the men who had died. Also, if they did locate the bodies, crosses were not allowed on grave sites as they were not the official sign of the Russian Orthodox Church. So many families would place crosses on the hill to commemorate the men who had gone missing while trying to win their freedom!

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5. After WWI, in 1918, Lithuania regained its independence from the Russian Empire. The hill’s popularity started to grow, and by WWII there were over 400 crosses on the hill. During the period between WWI and WWII, the hill was mainly used as a place for devotion, miracles, and prayer, attracting Lithuanians from as far away as the Baltic Sea.

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6. After WWII, in 1944, Lithuania fell back under the Soviet Socialist Republic Empire, much to the dismay of the Lithuanian people. During this time of occupation, the Lithuanian people would pilgrimage to the hill as a sign of rebellion against the Soviets. The hill became a symbol of Lithuanian nationalism.

7. Secretly, the Lithuanian people started leaving wooden crosses on the hill. As the word of the hill grew, more and more people would sneak through the forest at night and leave wooden crosses. The Russian government forbid anyone, punishable by exile to Siberia, to place any more crosses in the area; however, the crosses just kept appearing.

Nothing they could say would stop the Lithuanian people!

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That’s me with my Lithuanian

8. The hill was destroyed by the Russians, three different times (1961, 1973, and 1975), in an effort to stop the people from expressing their Lithuanian religion and nationalism. All of the crosses were burned or turned into scrap metal. The whole hill was then covered with trash to discourage the people from placing any more crosses on the site.

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Fun fact: Lithuania gained its independence from Russia in 1993. YES, 1993! Can you believe that? The hill became a remembrance of the oppression and the strong will of the Lithuanian people.

Today, people from all over the world come to leave a cross. Many have different reasons. The Lithuanians will always remember this site as a sign of strength and belief that they would overcome and once again be their own nation!

What you should know about the hill of crosses Lithuania

9. Two special crosses can be found at the hill.

The first one is of sitting Jesus. It was designed as a symbol of those who believed in Jesus and were Catholics but were not allowed to openly worship under the Russian government. So they designed the sitting Jesus who is sitting inside His house (under the roof) worshiping in secret. Notice His very sad face. If you visit the Hill of Crosses, you can still buy these handmade, sitting Jesus statues. Pick one up – they are said to bring good luck.

What you should know about the hill of crosses Lithuania

The second, special cross can been seen front and center on the hill. In 1993, Pope John Paul II came to Lithuania. The Pope visited the Hill of Crosses during his visit. He was so impressed with the hill that he donated a large, beautiful, metal cross with a marble base. The base is inscribed and signed by the Pope as a message to the Lithuanian people. The inscription thanks the Lithuanians for their belief in the Church and belief in their faith.

10. The visit of Pope John Paul II was a HUGE event for the Lithuanian people. It was the first time in many years that they had been free from Russian regime. They were finally allowed to openly worship the Catholic Church. Thousands upon thousands of Lithuanians came to the Hill of Crosses to see the Pope and celebrate their newfound freedom!

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So if you are in Lithuania, this is a must see on your visit – they have lost count of how many crosses are there now, but it reaches the hundreds of thousands! It is an amazing place, almost magical, as you walk through the hundreds of thousands of crosses. You can feel the proud spirit of Lithuania at your back!

Is there anything else I can help you with on your travels to Lithuania?

Do you need a hotel room? If you are staying in Vilnius, my suggestion would be the Vilnius Center Apartments; you can compare prices here. These apartments are fully equipped with kitchens and living rooms. Some even have nice patios to enjoy the Lithuanian sunshine! They are not in the old town center, so they have ample parking spaces, and they are owned by a local Lithuanian family who would do anything to help you during your stay!

What you should know about the hill of crosses Lithuania

 

For What to eat in Lithuania, <– check out our guide.  

OR –>  Take some day trips all over Lithuania , Check out our recommendations and

compare prices of day trips here. <– 

Do you need a car?

 

A great way to see Lithuania is to rent a car and drive the country.  This way you can see all Lithuanian has to offer on our own time.  Compare Prices of Rental Cars Here.

Need a Flight to Lithuania?

Check out JetRadar to compare the best flight options, and prices from around the world.

 

Are you looking for a total package of airfare and hotel with a car? You can get it all in one spot with Expedia! Flight and hotel package getaways – book early and save big at Expedia!


Top Deals - Save on Amazing Getaways on Expedia!

 Ferry to Lithuania from Germany:

From Kiel Germany there is a ferry to Klapedia Lithuania that runs twice a day. It is a great boat, with sleeper cabins and a restaurant.  You can go on foot, or take your take your car.  It is nice easy way to get to Lithuania overnight. The Ferry is Through DFDS Ferries and we use them whenever we travel to and from Germany to Lithuania.  Don’t forget it is also pet friendly!

 

Good to know:

Lithuania is part of the European Union and Schengen Zone. Anyone able to travel to Europe without a visa is allowed in Lithuania for up to 90 days with just a passport. Please remember – when coming to Europe, your passport must be valid 90 days past your date of departure. If you need to update your passport, you can check here – RushMyPassport.com

Language:

Did you know that Lithuanian is one of the oldest spoken languages still left in the world today? Do you want to learn a little Lithuanian before you go? We use Pimsleur Language Programs
icon for all of our language needs.They are currently offering a free language lesson, so check them out by clicking on the image below.

Pimsleur All Languages

 

 

Thank you for reading! Wonder where the ball will take us next? Sign up and receive an email each time we post a new travel update!  We hope you enjoyed our guide on what you should know about the Hill of Crosses. See you Soon.

 

– Stacey

 

Please be advised – Baskets Life Travel is an affiliate partner of travel sites to bring you the best prices, locations, hotels, car rentals, and flight options. If you click on a link, we could receive payment, goods, or compensation. We only promote travel we have personally used and know you will love, too. All opinions are our own. 

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53 Comments

  • […] some ideas on what to do while in Lithuania, check out all of our articles on Lithuania, like the Hill of Crosses, and Witches Hill. […]
  • Reply March 29, 2017

    Megan

    I had no idea about the hill of crosses. It's both eerie and inspiring at the same time. Thanks for sharing the story and the beautiful photographs.
  • Reply March 28, 2017

    Reshma Narasing

    So many theories and legends about a single place! Amazing to find out that a single place can be the source of strength for an entire nation. Didn't know so many interesting facts about Lithuania!
  • Reply March 28, 2017

    Anita Hendrieka

    I have never heard of this place! I am definitely adding this to the bucket list. I would love to visit Lithuania one day. I love your pictures too, they look so eerie! Anita Hendrieka recently posted...6 Ways to Stay Safe as a Solo Female Traveller in IndiaMy Profile
  • Reply March 27, 2017

    Tami

    Fascinating stories! I love to learn about the history of a people--it makes visiting their country so much more meaningful. This Hill of Crosses is so inspiring on so many levels. Thanks for sharing! Tami recently posted...Definitely Montmartre! (A Paris neighborhood worth seeing)My Profile
  • Reply March 27, 2017

    Debra Schroeder

    The Hill of Crosses looks so surreal. Like something from a movie set.What a wonderful story of faith and trust in the Lord. Loved learning the history behind the Hill of Crosses. Such a remarkable story and strength of the Lithuanian people.
  • I actually really don't know what to say. I'm not sure if this place is awesome, scary or weird. Hmm, maybe I just need to visit it and find out. Bilyana | OwlOverTheWorld recently posted...Where to Stay in Berlin City Center – Generator Hostel Mitte ReviewMy Profile
  • Reply March 26, 2017

    anna

    What a strange and peculiar place! Never even heard about it until now. Thank you for sharing- I would love to visit this place. Your photos are incredible too! Really captured the entire vibe of the place.
  • Reply March 25, 2017

    LeAnna Brown

    Those first few photos could be some "fake" location from something like Game of Thrones- it looks so amazing! And what a fascinating and hauntingly beautiful backstory to it all LeAnna Brown recently posted...A Vacation Without Your Children: Why Guilt Should Not Get In the WayMy Profile
  • Reply March 25, 2017

    noel

    What a fascinating place and history, it is so inspiring to the people there and their beliefs.
  • Reply March 25, 2017

    Kavey

    What an incredible site! I've been to Lithuania only once on a short press trip and was only able to see Vilnius and Trakai but have been keen since then to see more of the country. I really would love to see the Hill of Crosses, love the different stories behind it!
  • wow, pretty interesting! Not something you read about every day...I went to Lithuania a few years ago but spent some time only in Vilnus :(
  • Reply September 30, 2014

    Nic

    This is such a fascinating location, if a little scary. Somewhere I would love to visit, thanks for all the information, You learn something new everyday!
  • […] From Baskets Life Travel I learned about the Hill of Crosses  in Lithuania, and it’s revolutionary history in the country’s struggle for independence from Russia. […]
  • Reblogged this on Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot and commented: More travels and inspiration from Baskets Life Travel.
  • I've never heard of this place either until now - it looks amazing. Thanks for sharing! And, thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler! :)
  • I have never heard of the Hill of Crosses but now I want to visit and get my own sitting Jesus cross. What great stories and history behind such a special place. I really like the farmer story but I also really appreciate the national pride story. I don't know too much about Lithuania so I loved learning all of these.
    • Reply April 10, 2014

      basketslife

      Thank you so much for reading! It is a super cool story! I really love all the history behind it too! Yes for sure you need a sitting Jesus Cross they are really cute! Hope you visit soon! :)
      • Reply August 20, 2014

        Pedro

        It's wonderful to see how a people can be so strong and united. I visited the Hill of Crosses (Kriziu Kalnas) in 2010 and loved it! Of course I had to put one cross. I hope it's still there! Very interesting post!
  • Reply April 9, 2014

    Ace CB

    This is absolutely fascinating, and being a history nerd I really appreciate the "under told" stories, especially of resistance to oppression. Thank you so much for sharing =)
    • Reply April 9, 2014

      basketslife

      Thank you very much for reading! I love stories like this as well most of our blogs we try to find the history behind the site! :)
  • Reply April 8, 2014

    malaysianmeanders

    Thank you so much for sharing these stories. I have never heard of the Hill of Crosses, but I can definitely see why so many Lithuanians are proud of it. That first story of the father wanting to cure is daughter is heartwarming while the second one is so poignant. I'm so glad that the Pope chose to honor and validate the Hill by adding his own donation.
  • I learned so much reading this post especially since I'd never heard of the Hill of Crosses before. And I had no idea that Lithuania just gained its independence in 1993. Thanks for the history lesson and fun facts!
    • Reply April 9, 2014

      basketslife

      Thank you for reading ~ its an amazing place! The Whole Country is amazing!
  • Reply April 7, 2014

    stretchingittotravel

    Wow, Amazing! Thanks for sharing!
  • Reply April 7, 2014

    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

    This place looks incredible. The Baltic States are on my far-too-long list of places to visit SOON and this has made me want to go even more!
    • Reply April 9, 2014

      basketslife

      Hi Phoebe, The Baltics are amazing! I hope you get to go soon if you do hollar we can give you lots of infomation.
  • Reply April 7, 2014

    frankaboutcroatia

    I've never heard about this place. But it sure looks very interesting. Amazing story behind it! And I haven't known that the majority of Lithuanians are Roman Catholics (this sounds totally ignorant I know). Stacey your posts are always so informative and educational.
  • Reply April 7, 2014

    Jess

    I've never heard of this place - it's really cool! It kind of reminds me of a place on the Alaska Highway that's a collection of road signs - but with a more interesting history.
  • Reply April 6, 2014

    justinpluslauren

    I had no idea this place existed - it looks amazing! I'm in no way religious but I would love to visit a site like this - it would be so neat to see so many crosses all in one place, from all over the world!
  • Reply April 6, 2014

    Sylvia Valevicius

    Hi Stacey - I forwarded a link, and a small blurb to twitter. I LOVED this post and the history and great photos you provided. (You look wonderful, btw, and your cute family, too!) Sylvia xo! (PS) There is that same figure of Christ in our Lithuanian cemetery in Mississauga, Ontario where all my relatives are buried. I think the idea is to imitate the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. (PPS) ask your husband if the term 'Lugan' is familiar to him or is used at all anymore. It was the nickname for Lithuanians in the USA, especially Chicago when I was a girl & visited my godfather's family there.
  • Reply April 6, 2014

    codowd

    This place looks so mysterious to me and has for a while been the main reason why I'd love to go to Lithuania. There's just so much history in culture there :)
  • Reply April 6, 2014

    Adelina | PackMeTo

    I've seen pictures of this place but didn't know until today it was in Lithuania. How very cool! Definitely putting it on my list of places to visit. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler again :)
  • I had never heard of this place, I has goosebumps reading it, I am not sure if I believe much of these stories, but I love how it somehow brings people together. Also LOVING your fun facts + cartoons. Sweet touch! Big thanks for linking up with us to #SundayTraveler again
  • Reply April 6, 2014

    davidpcole

    I love that this place and its meaning endured occupation and attempts at suppression. A very inspiring history and spirit!
  • Reply April 6, 2014

    bavariansojourn

    What a fascinating place, I have never heard of it before! Looks really interesting though, as is the history behind it! :)
  • Reply April 6, 2014

    Jacqueline

    What a bizarre + intriguing place! I really enjoyed this post. I had never heard of this place before and the two stories [I liked the first one better :)] were interesting to learn about!
  • Reply April 5, 2014

    Anonymous

    Thank you Stacey - You definitely feel the spirit of Lithuania . My fiancé is English - he was amazed by The Hill of Crosses when we visited in summer .
    • Reply April 5, 2014

      basketslife

      It is an amazing place! Thank you for reading, your name is not showing ~ are you Lithuanian?
  • Reply April 5, 2014

    leftoverpeas

    Thanks for posting such an interesting story. I'd never heard of that hill before. Great read.
    • Reply April 5, 2014

      basketslife

      Its a amazing place! Hope you will get a chance to see it ! Thank you for reading!
  • Reply April 5, 2014

    KD Did It

    I absolutely love the stories you relate and how you turn it into great history lessons for us and your kids. And I would really appreciate your contacting me as there is something I need to say that I don't want to put out in public. kathydavie.at.me.com
    • Reply April 5, 2014

      basketslife

      Hi Kathy, thank you so much for reading I am really excited to hear that you like our stories. I will for sure shoot an eamil in the morning! :) Have a great Sunday!
  • Fascinating set of stories about a place which has obviously held its own for a good couple of hundred years now, against great odds! Always good to hear how places gain their meaning and how those meanings change (and perhaps get mixed up, added to, or sometimes lost) over time.
    • Reply April 5, 2014

      basketslife

      Yes, sometimes it is hard to find the real story unless you know the locals that is the fun part! Thank you for reading I really appreciate it! :)
  • Wow, I didn't even though that this existed. What am amazing site! Thanks for sharing. :)
    • Reply April 5, 2014

      basketslife

      Thank you for reading ~ Yes it is really amazing! Hope you get to see it!!
      • Its somewhere that has now been added to the list! :)
        • Reply April 5, 2014

          basketslife

          Awesome Stay tuned I am getting ready to write a whole serious of posts about Lithuania :)
          • April 5, 2014

            Travelling Book Junkie

            I am now following your adventures so I can keep up to date - until today Lithuania was not necessarily on the travel list but it has just made its way on to it. :)
          • April 5, 2014

            basketslife

            That is awesome it is a beautifu place! :)
          • April 5, 2014

            basketslife

            That is very nice to hear thank you very much!

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