Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Mon October 10 2016

Opinion Home | Notes from the Goats

  • Nick and Dariece | October 10, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Visiting Europe’s Most Overlooked Sacred Monument

    Visiting Europe’s Most Overlooked Sacred Monument

    Tucked away in the tiny Baltic country of Lithuania is one of Europe's most sacred sites, which is equally one of its most overlooked. If you're planning to travel in Eastern Europe, the Hill of Crosses should be high up on your list.

    Close to the city of šiauliai in northern Lithuania, is a true story of defiance in the face of repression. To fully understand the symbolism and how it came to be, you need to look back a few centuries.

    It's said that the site had become a peaceful place for Catholics to pray and leave a cross as early as the 14th century, however details from this time are hard to come by. We do know that by the end of the 1800's over 3000 crosses had appeared at the site in defiance to the ongoing repression of Catholicism by occupying Russia.

    The site took on special significance after 1944 with the renewed Russian occupation of Lithuania, as part of the USSR, which lasted until 1990. During this time there were several Soviet attempts to bulldoze the hill and it became a huge national symbol of peaceful protest and defiance as the number of crosses grew year after year.

    Lithuanian independence finally came in 1990 by which time there were an estimated 50,000 crosses recorded at the site. Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses On September 7th 1993, declaring it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice.

    hill of crosses 1

    The site today

    Today the number of crosses has swelled to well over 100,000! Visiting the hill is a simply awe-inspiring experience. The surrounding landscape is relatively flat causing the monument to stand out from quite a distance.

    When you hear the name you might imagine a huge hill with a steep climb to the top but in reality the 'hill' itself if quite small. When you approach the site, you'll see the crosses themselves, which have been piled up over hundreds of years, forming a gigantic symbolic mound.

    There are several pathways which run amongst the thousands of crucifixes and rosary beads so is easy to find your own peaceful spot for a few moments of reflection. There are several makeshift “altars” amongst the crosses which many people use as a place to stop and pray.

    Once you walk around, you'll truly realize how many crosses there are! People have left crucifixes of all sizes from the size of a coin up to the huge wooden constructions that tower above their surroundings.

    Some of the larger crosses are adorned with hundreds of smaller crosses and beads. This makes quite a haunting sound as the wind blows across the peaceful site.

    hill of crosses 2Make sure you take the time to read some of the inscriptions as you walk around. There are words in many languages, from many countries with countless sentiments. It can be a little overwhelming to absorb the thousands of messages of peace, hope, sadness, loss, faith, support and love left by past visitors.

    The area is under no one’s jurisdiction so everyone is free to come and leave their cross, whatever the size or design for future generations to see.


    People of all faiths or none come from far and wide to visit this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site. No matter your beliefs it's hard not be astounded by the scale and symbolism of the Hill of Crosses.

    Visiting the Hill of Crosses

    The site is easy to access by car, situated beside the main A12 road, 8 miles north of Siauliai City. Look for the turn off signposted as "KRYZIU KALNAS" (Hill of Crosses).

    There is no charge for the hill itself but car parking is charged at €1 per vehicle.

    Next to the car park is a friendly Visitor's Center which is open Monday- Friday - 9:00-18:00 and Saturday-Sunday - 10:00-17:00.

    Also, beside the information center you will find several stalls selling crosses, angels, postcards and local crafts. So there's no need to bring your own cross to the site as they are readily available to buy before you approach the hill area.

    To get to the hill itself you walk through a short tunnel under the road. The car park and Visitor Center have been intentionally designed to be lower than the hill so as not to obscure the view.

More Europe


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Nick and Dariece Notes from the Goats

Nick and Dariece Nick and Dariece are the couple behind Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they've been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They are also full time contributors at Credit Walk where they share their expertise of making money and travelling forever. Check them out at Goats On The and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Journey on an Avalon River Cruise

Cruise Lines & Cruise Ships