This is the worst way to start a story, but that's just what it was. A moment when I couldn't talk and just looked around me with my jaw dropped, almost forgetting how to breathe.
When our trip from Riga to Tallinn was cancelled, my friend Judith and I started looking for a fun alternative: Something close to Riga and cheap to get to.
We randomly googled places we found on a map until we stumbled upon a picture of the Hill of crosses in Siauliai, Lithuania. Was this real? And what was it?
A short wikipedia research reveiled:
One theory is that the first crosses were erected by the families of the rebels, who fell in the 1831 rebellion.
In another theory, Maria visited this hill with baby Jesus. In another story a girl was healed because her father erected a cross on the hill.
So no one really knows when it started and why but there's a hill in the Lithuanian nowhere where people have stuck tons of crosses into the ground.
The next day we stepped out of a taxi on a field in Lithuania.
Just like in the pictures, there were crosses everywhere we looked.
From giant ones, several meters high above our heads to tiny colourful rosaries dangling from smaller crosses.
In some areas, the crosses were simply piled on top of each other, while towards the edges they were still standing by themselves.
Judith and I just started walking. There was no one else there and all we could see were crosses and fields.
Once you walk up the hill, you will find a madonna statue on the top. The crosses around it are taller, so she doesn't stand out but it looks like she could have been the start of it all.
I took several hundred pictures because I felt too overwhelmed to just stand there and look. I wasn't sure if I was scared or just oberwhelmed.
We simply kept walking through the fields of crosses, not talking and taking pictures until both our memory cards were full.
Not being religious, this place still rendered me speechless. How many crosses were there? How many people have come here to put there cross down? And where were they all now?
I still can't find the right words to describe this place, it simply is: Breathtaking.
Did you ever visit a place that absolutely blew your mind? Let me know in the comments!
Hill of crosses, about 15km from Siauliai, Lithuania
How to get there:
take a minibus from Riga to Siauliai. There is a connecting bus (towards Joniskis) once an hour. The stop is Domantu station and you will have to walk for another 30min after that.
Or you take a taxi from Siauliai bus station, which is about 20€. If you ask nicely, the driver might wait for you free of charge to take you back.