The Hill of Crosses is the monument of history and architecture, it is a unique ensemble of folk art. It attracts people, all believing in their calmness, spirituality, authentic and sacral being.
An oblong, a little bit similar to a saddle mound stretches in a plain, surrounded by the Kulpe River and the valleys of its nameless affluent. In the landscape, the hill is vivid not only for its shape, but also for straight environment and the collection of the crosses standing in the yard and in the downhills.
The hill itself is formed on Jurgaiciai – Domantai mound with the former settlement of the nearby which is dated 13-14th c. It became a sacral place in the 19th c. It is said that the first crosses were built here by the relatives of the rebels, who died in the rebellion of the year 1831, and who were not allowed by the czarist government to honour the graves of their relatives in a proper way. The number of such crosses grew after the rebellion of the year 1863. At that date, there began forming the peculiar traditions of this hill visiting and cross building.
The Hill of Crosses became the place of pledge taking. Another version states that many crosses emerged after the 19th c. when in the seventh decade, in the mound, there manifested the Virgin with the baby Jesus – she was the one who encouraged the people to build crosses in this place. In 1850, there were seventeen crosses, in 1895-1898 there stood one hundred and eighty of them on the hill, in 1938 – over four hundred. The number of crosses grew rapidly and during the time of the Soviet occupation, in 1960, there were two thousand and a half of just bigger crosses.
At the beginning of the 20th c., the Hill of Crosses was already widely known. It was richly visited by the people, the sacred service was held there as well as the feast. The hill and the crosses present there did not provide any joy to the Soviet government. In this way, the period of “destruction” began which lasted for almost twenty years. In 1958, Meskuiciai collective farm began digging gravel in the Hill of Crosses. In 1961, in the hill there already worked the bulldozers, wooden crosses were damaged and burnt, metal ones were taken to the scrap metal, stone and concrete ones were broken, buried or drowned in the Kulpe River. Half thousand crosses were destroyed annually stating that the crosses “not having the artistic value” were destroyed. Later the “epidemics” of hog cholera and rabies were announced, it was forbidden to enter the territory, militia was protecting the way to the hill. At the end of the eighth decade of the last century, it was chosen to bank Kulpe, which was turned into sewerage gutter, and to inundate the hill. But during the nights, there constantly grew new crosses on the hill, and after every demolition (there were four of them) the Hill of Crosses was reborn over and over again.
In 1988, there blew the fresh revival winds – the Hill of Crosses became the self of not only Lithuania, but also of the whole world. Now one can count over one hundred thousand various crosses, roadside poles, the statues and pictures of the saint with rosaries hung on them.
On the 7th of September, in 1993, the Hill of Crosses was visited by the Pope Jean-Paul II. Here he celebrated Mass, during which he was praying for the Lithuanian faith martyrs and the whole Christian Europe. Here Lithuania was called “The Country of Crosses” by the heir of Christ. The Holly Father later spoke about the Hill of Crosses as about “a special place in the world, which concentrates all sufferings and pain of the modern age, in which there shines the hope of resurrection“.
During the preparation to the apostolic trip of the Holly Father, in 1993, the chapel was built in front of the Hill of Crosses, in which Jean-Paul II celebrated Mass – there took part 100 thousands of prayers. Still, during the last weekend of July, here the feast is held of the Hill of Crosses.
No stories can render the majesty, the mystery, the calmness and the spirituality of the Hill of Crosses. You just have to see and to feel it Yourself. If You want to feel several moments of this amazing and the only place in the world, choose this tour. The splendid view and atmosphere will give You peace and will calm Your spirit.
9:00 - DEPARTURE FROM VILNIUS
10:30 - VISIT TO BURBISKIS MANOR IN PANEVEZYS REGION
Not only to Holland there flow thousands of tourists in spring to observe the festival of tulip flowering. The tulip gardens of Burbiskis manor are not less wonderful. The manor has perhaps the biggest tulip garden of all Baltic countries – here, in May, there bloom over 400 kinds of blossoms.
Burbiskis manor fascinates with impressive ponds with islands connected by 12 bridges, majestic gates of the park, mythological stone with "The Foot of Mary” (all desires come true after touching it). A guesthouse is established in the rebuilt guest block of the manor, and the exposition of the history of the manor is established in the terrace of the manor. The park is full of the works of the sculptor Kazimieras Ulianskas: the monument of the poet Adomas Mickevicius, the monument of the Great Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas, the sculpture of the Holly Virgin Mary.
11:30 a.m. - DEPARTURE TO THE HILL OF CROSSES
12:30 p.m. - DEPARTURE TO SIAULIAI
1:30 p.m. - LUNCH IN SIAULIAI
2:30 p.m. - TRIP TO THE HILL OF CROSSES
3:30 p.m. - VISIT TO KURTUVENAI MANOR HOMESTEAD AND KURTUVENAI CHURCH
5:00 p.m. - DEPARTURE TO VILNIUS
Tickets to Burbiskis Manor Estate and Hill of Crosses are not included in the price
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