Hill of Crosses is a site of pilgrimage situated about 12km north of the city of Siauliai, in northern Lithuania. The impressive religious site attracts thousands of pilgrims and curious tourist altogether every year, being considered the symbol of catholic soul and spirituality, as well as a symbol of the Lithuanian resistance against the Soviet power. The Hill of Crosses is a unique monument of history and religious folk art and although its origin is uncertain, it is believed that the first crosses were placed on the former Domantai fort hill after the 1831 Uprising.
Over the years, crosses and giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary and thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought to the site by catholic pilgrims. The Hill of Crosses is only 8-10 meters high ad 40-50 meters wide and it the old site of a castle of Sami-gallian tribe that was burned down by the Crusaders.
The site became very popular and it took a special significance during 1944-1990, when Lithuania was under the Soviet Union influence, because the people of the country used the Hill of Crosses to demonstrate their allegiance to their original identity, religion and heritage. Despite the Soviet efforts to put down the site, it still remained a venue of peaceful resistance.
In 1990, 130 crosses were recorded to be located on the hill and in 1993 pope John Paul II visited the site and declared it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice. In 2000 a Franciscan hermitage was open nearby and the interior decorations draws links with La Verna, the mountain where St. Francis received his stigmata. Today the hill remains under nobody’s jurisdiction where people are still free to build crosses as they see fit. The Hill of Crosses is a site of free religious expression and that is clearly seen in the huge number of crosses, which surpasses 100,000.