A Visit to the Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

What a special place to visit. The Hill of Crosses is one of the most unique destinations I’ve ever been to, and I actually felt quite emotional on my visit. It’s made up of well over 200,000 crosses, and is one of Lithuania’s most popular sites – it’s easy to see why.

Climbing the Hill

The History

People began planting crosses here en-masse in the 1800s, although the tradition probably began much earlier. Following the failed 1831 Uprising against the Russian Empire, people placed crosses on the hill both as a sign of their religion, and also to honor victims and relatives of the uprising, many of whom were deported to Siberia.

During Soviet times in the 1900s, the Hill of Crosses took on an even greater importance—as a sign of resistance to the totalitarian regime. The Hill of Crosses was bulldozed by the Soviet authorities several times, but people would risk their lives in peaceful protest by planting crosses again, even overnight to avoid detection. The Hill of Crosses became a symbol of Lithuanian national identity, as well as a significant religious site.

The incredible Hill

Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass on the Hill of Crosses on September 7th 1993, to a huge crowd of 100,000 people. There is a small chapel commemorating the spot where he celebrated Mass.

Today, people still leave crosses in memory of loved ones. I’ve talked a lot about my infertility issues, and I found a small comfort in leaving a little cross in memory of my 13 (at the time of writing) miscarried little babies, who even though never older than a few weeks were loved regardless and who I wish in another world might have been visiting with me.

Getting There

Getting to The Hill of Crosses is easiest by car. The nearest town is Šiauliai (pronounced show-lay), 12km away. If you’re coming from Vilnius it’s a 2.5 hour drive, or 2hrs from Kaunas. We drove from Vilnius, en-route to Riga, as the site is about half way, making it the perfect stop off.

If you don’t have a car, you can also take a train from Vilnius or Kaunas to Šiauliai. From there, head to the bus station and get the next bus to Joniskis and get off at Domantai, from where it’s a 2km walk to The Hill of Crosses site. Buses are to and from Šiauliai to the site are unreliable though, so I really recommend a car if you can do so.

Please also take insect repellant – I managed to get bitten 3 times on my face, 6 times on my legs, one on my bum and all across my scalp. And I was wearing trousers and a jumper!

Final views of the Hill

So what do you think of The Hill of Crosses? Would you want to visit one day? I thought it was a great place, and I thoroughly recommend it if you ever visit Lithuania.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, and for sharing your own personal, painful struggles. I understand personally the pain and heartache of infertility. The crosses seem to give peace; and bless those who risked their lives to keep it flourishing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for reading – and I’m so sorry to hear that you understand the grief and the pain of infertility too. I’ve definitely found some peace in being open about it, so many of us suffer in silence when we shouldn’t have to – and I found peace in laying a little cross 🙂


  2. I’m so glad you got to visit the Hill of Crosses; I don’t know of many travel bloggers (at least, the ones I follow) who have gone. I actually shlepped it over by public transport, waking up extremely early to catch the first train out of Vilnius and taking the bus over afterwards. Even the walk over to the site from the bus stop is pretty, if isolated: the rapeseed in the springtime was especially abundant. Thankfully, I didn’t get bitten by insects during my visit, but insect repellent is always a good idea to have! Happy to see you saw all of the crosses and had learned about the sentimentality attached to each one– it’s touching to see these crosses hung by those devoted to God!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, you did it by public transport – that is real commitment! I found it a really worthwhile and moving site, although also totally spooky and in equal part amazing and weird. And I’ve learnt my lesson with insect repellant!! Thanks for reading and hope you’re having a nice weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It really was, and yes I did take some peace and comfort away with me. It’s nice to think all over the world I’ve laid crosses, lit candles, spared thoughts – somehow it feels peaceful to do that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful and moving place to visit. I do believe that those we have loved and lost are always with us and your sweet babies know that they were loved and I believe there will be moments when you will feel their love for you in small unexpected ways. What a beautiful tribute to that love you shared.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thank you for reading Meg and for your lovely words. I agree – I will always be a different person than I was before after each and every loss. We love so much and when we lose it hurts. But sometimes grief is just love with nowhere to go….who knows, maybe some day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, so many different crosses – I can see that this place might bring some emotion. And I’m happy that you got to “plant” your own little cross in memory of the little ones you carried … I believe we will see them again one day 💌.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a place. I’ve just finished reading a book about Lithuanian history and the story of Jonas Noreika or ‘General Storm’. This place gets a mention in it, although I suspect it’s one of those seen to be believed kind of places. I hope you found comfort in leaving a cross and I’m sorry for your losses. I didn’t want that to go unacknowledged.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh I’ve heard of that book but I haven’t read it yet. It’s definitely a see it to believe it kind of place – pictures can’t capture the scale of it. Oh Helen, that’s so kind of you and thank you so much 🙂


  6. Such a unique place and I can see why it’s a popular place to visit in Lithuania. Definitely on my list to visit when I make it there.
    I’m glad you were able to add your own cross too!

    Liked by 1 person

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