When you’re on a road trip (through the Baltics, or anywhere, really), one of the challenges in keeping things interesting is finding places to stop in between your destinations. I can say from experience that this can be difficult when you’re driving, for example, the vast stretch of land in Southern Idaho – just flat enough to be totally boring, and conservative enough to be pretty scary. However, when driving from Klaipeda to Vilnius in Lithuania, as we did on the last day of our Baltic Road Trip Honeymoon ™, we found no lack of interesting/kitschy/somber roadside attractions to keep us entertained.
The Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses is located just north of the city of Šiauliai in North Central Lithuania. I know that every time I talk about a church or other religious site, I preface with the fact that I am not a religious person. Let me repeat that, I am most certainly not a religious person. That said, I very much enjoyed visiting the Hill of Crosses. Gift shop aside, the site was very impressive. Hundreds of thousands of crosses piled on top of one another as a monument to the nation’s Catholicism. It is uncertain when folks started placing crosses there – Wikipedia says sometime in the mid 19th century. The real action at the Hill of Crosses, though, took place when Lithuania was under the Soviets. The story goes that the Soviets tried many times to destroy the monument – burning the crosses, bulldozing the hill, etc. But the Lithuanians continued to put crosses there in silent religious protest to the atheist Soviet regime. Read more