Siauliai and the Hill of Crosses


SIAULIAI AND THE HILL OF CROSSES

If you miss peace, visiting the hilly land of Samogitia is a perfect choice. You will have the opportunity to rest quietly in the shades provided by the numerous churches and monasteries, marvel at the skill of the local craftsmen and will be surprised to witness the people’s strength of faith. Or maybe you will decide to take the pilgrim route? It is worth starting your acquaintance with the devout region of Samogitia a bit earlier: the outskirts of Aukštaitija have a special site where the wind gently blows through thousands of crosses. Welcome to the Hill of Crosses, the land of peace and faith. Around 12 kilometres north of Šiauliai, in the fields, there is a small hill with more than 200,000 crosses. They have all been brought here by Lithuanian people. The Lithuanian tradition of cross-crafting making has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. People started building crosses here in the 19th century. According to local people, the first crosses were built to pray for health. Other stories say that people started building crosses to commemorate those who died in the uprising of 1863. It was a sign of opposition to Tsarist rule, which having subdued the rebels punished everyone whose farmsteads contained crosses and tore them down. Therefore religious people decided to build crosses on the hill and did so at night time so that no one would spot them. When Lithuania regained its independence, the Hill of Crosses started attracting crowds of pilgrims from all over the world. People started building and bringing crosses to the lower part of the hill. On 7 September 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses and celebrated Holy Mass. In 2000 a Franciscan Monastery was built near the Hill.

Only 75 km separate you from Šiauliai and another important Samogitian destination, Telšiai. Come and visit one of the most significant religious sites: The Cathedral of Saint Anthony of Padua in Telšiai. The landmark of the Telšiai panorama is the Cathedral of St Anthony of Padua. It was built by Bernardine monks. A popular monk hood was established in Telšiai in the early 17th century, having been invited by Povilas Sapiega, the owner of Telšiai lands, whose portrait is still kept in the church. In 1624 the monks started building their first provisional wooden church and the brick buildings of the monastery. However after fires in the mid 18th century, they decided to build a stone church. The new church acquired a double name – Loreto Mother of God and St Anthony of Padua.

Source: Lithuanian State Department of Tourism under The Ministry of Economy