The Hill of Crosses – which is one of its kind in the world – is located 12 km north of Šiauliai. It is believed that in the Middle Ages, a wooden castle – referred to as Kula in the chronicles – stood on this hill and was destroyed by the Livonian army in 1348. Locals said that the first crosses were erected in the mid-19th century, praying for God’s grace and health, because people considered this hill to be a sacred place. Others said that the crosses were erected to commemorate those who died in the uprisings against tsarist Russia in 1831 and 1863.
During the period of Lithuanian occupation, the Hill of Crosses was a symbol of heroic resistance and belief in freedom. In the middle of the Hill of Crosses stands a sculpture of the Virgin Mary – the Mediatrix of all graces. Pope John Paul II together with Lithuanian bishops held a Mass in the chapel of the Hill of Crosses – which is also called the papal chapel – on September 2, 1993. A common motive for erecting crosses is to ask for God’s grace or to give thanks for those already received. The Hill of Crosses can also be visited at night, when the place is beautifully illuminated.