Up on a hill, 12km north of the town of Šiauliai, 188km northwest of Vilnius and 170km east of Klaipėda, lies the Hill of Crosses (Kryžių Kalnas), an ever-growing, awe-inspiring collection of over 200,000 crosses, statues and effigies. There are many myths surrounding the Hill’s origin, some dating back to pagan times, although the most plausible is that it was to commemorate rebels killed in nineteenth-century uprisings against the Russian Empire. In the Soviet era, they were planted by grieving families to commemorate killed and deported loved ones, and kept multiplying despite repeated bulldozing by the authorities. Today, crosses are often planted to give thanks for a happy event in a person’s life.
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