The Hill of Crosses is located about 12 km north of Šiauliai (German: Schaulen), 1.5 km east of the A12 trunk road leading from Šiauliai via Joniškis to Riga. The mountain is actually a 10m high saddle-shaped double hill with a narrow staircase made of wooden planks leading over it.
Pilgrims place crosses on this hill, often connected with a wish or thanksgiving. The pilgrimage is individual and not bound to any dates, but the Hill of Crosses is visited especially for weddings, births and at Easter.
There are the following legends about the origin of the hill, the erection of the crosses and the effects triggered by them. A father fell asleep at his sick daughter's camp. In a dream, a white female figure appeared to him and told him to put up a cross on the hill. The man did as the woman told him and put up a cross on that very hill. When he returned home, his daughter was healthy again. Another legend tells of a prince from Vilnius. 300 years ago, he had taken another prince to court and travelled past the mountain to Riga. He told his servant: "If I win the case, I will put up a cross on the mountain. After the prince had won the case, he ordered the cross to be erected on the mountain on his way back. Soon the fame of the prince's vow had spread throughout the country.
The hill is considered to be a medieval castle hill, whereby the castle is said to have borne the name Jurgaičiai and to have been destroyed by crusaders in 1348. Even at that time, the hill, which was at least partly artificial, was probably a place of prayer and sacrifice.
On 7 September 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the site and celebrated mass in the open air in front of around 100,000 faithful in the altar pavilion built especially for this purpose.
When we were there, at least two processions took place, during which new crosses were brought. In addition, many festively dressed people crowded around a baptised person in the confusion of the crosses. See also: Photo gallery!