After spending the morning in Palanga I hopped on the bus. It’s a three hours ride, if you take the direct connection to Siauliai, which goes once a day in the early afternoon. After checking into the Park Hotel, aptly named since it is right next to a park, I decided to get a Bolt taxi and bring the Hill of Crosses behind me. I was a bit apprehensive on what to expect from this religious site since all religious enthusiasm is making me nervous.
The weather was beautiful in Siauliai and the blue sky would make a nice backdrop to the Hill of Crosses. I had planned on spending some time here, because the hill was after all the only reason why I traveled to Siauliai. The city itself has nothing to offer albeit it is the third largest city in Lithuania. When I arrived at the Hill of Crosses though I noticed that it is in the middle of nowhere and therefore begged the taxi driver to wait for me. I didn’t even need to speak Lithuanian for him to understand me.
The Hill of Crosses started up in 1831 after an uprising against the Russian czar. It’s not so much a hill as a accumulation of crosses on top of each other with a small elevation in the middle. From the front it looks like this.
I actually walked up ‘the hill’ from the left side, taking in all the different crosses and devotional objects along the way.
Some crosses bear personal messages for individuals or a group of people, and all of the bigger crosses have small crosses draped over them. Or rosaries.
To get on the actual hill one climbs the stairs to the top and suddenly realizes that, once you are on top, there is another ‘hill’ to climb.
I decided to skip the second hill, because what would have been the point? It’s not as if there was a view waiting for me. Instead I took one of the many turnoffs and walked down on the right side of the hill.
Honestly, this is a really weird place. Religious zeal, no matter which faith, has always been slightly suspicious to me. And the Hill of Crosses quite confirms my position. There are so many crosses, big and small, on top of or just beside each other, that the whole place looks like a dump. There is nothing magnificent about it, like say e.g. Notre Dame or Sagrada Familia. It has a weather-beaten feel which has seen a lot of pain.
So is it worth making a detour for the Hill of Crosses? I am not convinced. Especially if you travel with public transport. I had to stay overnight, because there was no bus available bus service to stay for just an hour. Never mind, the whole thing is an experience. Even though I it lasted only 15 minutes and I wished it was better. Yours, Pollybert