Hill of Crosses

Hill of Crosses information

Šiauliai , Lithuania
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This 'Mecca of Lithuania' - thousands upon thousands of crosses on a hillock - has inspired countless pilgrimages.

Large and tiny, expensive and cheap, wood and metal, the crosses are devotional, to accompany prayers, or finely carved folk-art masterpieces. Others are memorials, tagged with flowers, a photograph or other mementoes in memory of the deceased, and inscribed with a sweet or sacred message. Traditional Lithuanian koplytstulpis (wooden sculptures of a figure topped with a little roof) intersperse the crosses, as do magnificent sculptures of the Sorrowful Christ (Rūpintojėlis). Should you wish to add your own, souvenir traders in the car park sell crosses big and small, enormous and nail-sized.

The Hill of Crosses is 10km north of Šiauliai, 2km east off the road to Joniškis and Rīga, in the village of Jurgaičiai. To get here, take one of eight daily buses from Šiauliai bus station to Joniškis or one of eight to Rīga and get off at the Domantai stop, from where it is a 2km walk to the hill. Look for the sign 'Kryžių kalnas 2' on the A12. By taxi, the return taxi fare is around Lt30, with a 30-minute stop at the hill; ask Šiauliai tourist office or your hotel/hostel to order one for you by telephone to avoid being ripped off. By bicycle the Hill of Crosses is a 12km ride; allow at least three hours for the return trip. The tourist office rents bikes and has route maps.