Šiauliai and the Hill of Crosses

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Lithuania is a wonderful country that have several great places worth to see. Among them the Hill of Crosses is the most particular. Unique in the world, this attraction in northern Lithuania is not due to any natural transformation but to the mankind and people faith.

More photos on my Flickr!

A place which is not like Vilnius

The capital of the cutest Baltic country has a modern and animated life, skyscrapers and old wooden houses are together with classic constructions. Despite the amount of parks, Vilnius remains a gorgeous large city (considering the country size and population) but these green effect gives a nice impression on people mood, it is not to mention that Lithuania has a lot of forest and natural places: Kernave, Curonian Spit are two of the most well know.

In comparison Siauliai seems is a regional town lost in the northern countryside of Lithuania, close to the Latvian border.

Hill of Crosses

I decided to go to Šiauliai, the fourth city of Lithuania, near Latvia by train (line Vilnius-Klaipeda) it is pretty fast to go, and from the city buses are found to reach the Hill of Crosses (Kryžių kalnas), not exactly at the spot but a little before and a long walk is needed along a road to see the hill, this is a major tourist attraction that haven’t proper transportation facilities, I see that as little pilgrimage :)

I found the bus station 10 minutes away from the train station by walk, I passed the church of  Saint George, the coach station is in the Saules Miestas shopping mall. I was lucky to get a bus only 15 minutes after my arrival, just enough time to eat a snack.

Since 1831 crosses are add continuously, the amount of crosses estimated is about 100.000!! I didn’t know how big could the hill be before going. It comes that one hour is pretty okay to make the tour slowly, but I don’t include the walking time between hill and bus stop. On the whole it would be 1:45, unless you walk  very slow or want to sculpt your own cross on site :p

Alone in Šiauliai

I took the same bus to come back from the city and started my exploration. I failed at my first task which was to find the Tourism Office, when I was on the high street (the first pedestrian street of Lithuania) I could guess on which direction to go, I turned right when I should have been on the left… this and my phone strangely running out of battery (loosing 60% in 15min!) made the afternoon a little more stressful, I needed my phone to contact my friend when I will have arrived in Vilnius.

Siauliai Cathedral

Siauliai Cathedral

The long street has many monument and sculpture, some famous such the Cockerel clock, the meeting point for lover, and some are unknown to me. At the end of it I saw a large fountain and children playing in it, the sky was grey and the rain nearly coming but those guys were enjoying their bath. As always I check on internet the city map and try to memorise it, with that I can try to navigate alone in a city. That is how I find the main monument of Šiauliai, a the end of a street perpendicular to the train station road!  The Archer (Šaulys) is a symbol of the city, standing here since 1947, the four meter statue and remind the date of a battle who was at the origins of the city, numbers 12, 3 and 6 mean that.

Cockerel love clock

Cockerel love clock

Iron Wolf by the lake

I returned to the center and visit the Cathedral, attending the beginning of the mess, the rain started. Near the building is the town hall and its square with the Fortune Disks fountain. I found the Tourism Office at the end of my trip, I asked for the city and main attraction that « can be seen in 30 minutes ». The girl of the office hasn’t a very good English but we communicate easily, and she was smiling a lot :) She circles several place I could reach by walk under the rain and I chose one to go. Actually behind the Sundial monument is a lake with a large Iron Wolf sculpture, that is the same Iron as in Vilnius, and come from the legendary of the King Gediminas.

Iron Wolf statue in Siauliai

Iron Fox statue in Siauliai

Guillaume Speurt

Guillaume Speurt

French settled in Estonia, I have spent my last years in the Baltic States. I love photography and travelling in Eastern and Central Europe, I write this blog to relate my experiences.
Guillaume Speurt

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2 commentaires

  1. Michael Strmiska on

    Dear Guillaume,

    Nice essay and lovely photos. One small correction: the statue in Šiauliai is not an iron wolf, but an iron fox. It may be taken as a parody of the Vilnius Iron Wolf.