- Posted October 5, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Travel photo of the day
The Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses is a curious phenomenon. No one manages or organizes it -- it just is. However, it has had a troubled and mysterious history that is tied to centuries of oppression suffered at the hands of invaders.
In 1795, Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire. Poles and Lithuanians unsuccessfully rebelled against Russian authorities in 1831 and 1863. Although the precise origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, some historians believe that the first crosses were placed on the hill following the 1831 uprising against the Russians; families could not locate bodies of perished loved ones so they started putting up symbolic crosses on the hill.
From 1944–1990, when Lithuania was under Soviet occupation, Lithuanians used the site to demonstrate their allegiance to their original identity, religion and heritage. It was a place of peaceful resistance, although three times, in 1961, 1973 and 1975, the hill was leveled, the crosses were burned or turned into scrap metal, and the area was covered with waste and sewage. After each destruction, local inhabitants and Catholic pilgrims from all over Lithuania would defiantly replace the crosses.
No matter how much one reads on the Hill of Crosses, nothing prepare truly prepares you for the sight of all those crosses sitting on a hill in the middle of an open field. It’s an astounding sight! I was even less prepared to deal with the emotions that washed over me as I watched a constant stream of people clutching crosses in their hands, trying to find that one spot to place it in. I was truly touched by their devotion.
Šiauliai is located about a two-hour drive from the capital city of Vilnius but we drove from Riga, Lativa – it’s actually a shorter distance.