Krestova Mountain - an unusual sight of Lithuania
Driving along the highway Riga - Kaliningrad, a few kilometers from the city of Šiauliai you can see an unusual sight: on a small hill in the middle of the field there are tens of thousands of crosses of all possible sizes, shapes and materials, and above them, at the very top of the hill, stands the statue of the Virgin Mary in blue clothes, stretching hands towards the visitors.
No, this is not a graveyard. This Mountain Krestova - a place of pilgrimage for believers and one of the unique sights of Lithuania.
Legends of the origin
There are no authentic, historically confirmed facts of the occurrence of this place, so there are several versions of the occurrence - which one is correct is unknown.
- In the Middle Ages, Krestova Mountain was the site of a kind of pagan worship, only as a sacrifice they put a cross. It is worth noting that many of the old crosses here resemble Celtic in appearance, although they are called Lithuanian.They combine together Christian and pagan symbols - the cross and the disk of the sun. In the 16th century, when Catholicism was finally established in the state, the Old Believers continued to perpetuate the memory of the past in this way.
- According to popular beliefs (not shown in the annals) in 1348, a battle of Lithuanian princedom with the Teutonic Order took place here. The small town of Kule, standing in this place, was burned to the ground, and all the inhabitants were destroyed. In memory of this terrible day, the first crosses were installed. Archaeological excavations have never been carried out here, so it is not known for sure whether the story is true.
- The latest version of the mountain of Crosses originates from the period of the Polish uprising in 1830, when there were battles with the invaders of the Russian Empire. Honoring the dead heroes, people began to install crosses on the hill, eventually turning the place of memory into a mountain of worship.
- There is still the most "running" story, which is told to tourists. Once upon a time a monastery stood at this place. For unknown reasons, he fell into the ground one day (mysticism or natural disasters?). At the same time, the child became seriously ill in the neighboring village, and the father of the family, in desperation,put the cross on the site of the perished monastery. The child was miraculously healed, and the hill became overgrown with crosses.
Soviet power against faith
Until 1939, the mountain of Krestov interfered with few people and numbered more than 400 thousand crucifixes, but with the accession of Lithuania to the Union of Republics, which means that with the advent of Soviet power, the place became “to call the eyes”. In 1961 a decree was issued on cleansing the hill from crosses. But the authorities did not know that the faith of a person is much stronger - the mountain continued to replenish itself with crosses, despite the fact that four attempts were made to clear it. For some time they even tried to guard her with the help of the military, but resourceful believers still put the crosses back into place under the cover of night.
In the early 2000s, an article about one of the managers of these “purges” was even written in the newspaper “Trud”. As he was overtaken by “God's punishment” for misbehavior: his children died - one drowned, and the second crashed in a car accident, and he died from a serious illness.
Place of hope
With the onset of perestroika, everything changed: the Hill of Crosses was ranked among the landmarks of the country, and some of the crosses (about fifty) are listed in the Register of Cultural Property.
There are no such number of crosses in any corner of the globe. The variety of shapes and sizes is amazing! Small pectoral crosses and huge colossi several meters in height stand, lie, support each other, some simply hang in clusters or are dumped in one pile (with time wooden supports rot and heavy weight fall).
A wooden staircase leads to the center of the place (and most of the crosses are wooden, so there is a warning sign: do not light candles and lamps) from numerous small steps, jealously keeping secrets of Krestovaya Mountain.
The Pope of Rome brought world fame to this unusual place: in 1993, John Paul II visited Mount Krestov and installed his cross - a statue of the crucified Christ. He explained that the cross is not a symbol of suffering and grief, but on the contrary, strong faith in the resurrection, hope and love of God, and people who so steadfastly defended this place from vandalism are worthy of grace. This event happened on September 7th.
The history of Mount Crosses spawned many beliefs and superstitions. One of the main ones is the belief in healing: if you put a cross with a name on the mountain, the damage will be removed and the soul will leave heavy.It is also considered that the cross installed there will bring the owner good luck in all undertakings and good luck for life, and the coins left will pay for “karmic” debts.
At the same time, there are not only Catholic symbols here - one can meet the Arabian crescent and the Israeli star, the rosary of Hindus and tablets with Chinese hieroglyphs. This is the last cry of the soul in the hope of help from above, regardless of religious affiliation and nationality.
Krestova Mountain has another name - in the geographical atlas it is designated as Pilyaus Mountain, which in ancient times sounded like Piles Hill, and the village was called Yurgach. Also famous hill called Temple or Holy Mountain.
It is interesting that there are no beggars in this place, usually gathering in places of pilgrimage - it is forbidden here. For some time there were attempts to protect the mountain with the help of the police, but after the sad incident in 1995, when a mad resident Šiauliai shot the policeman on duty, the guards were removed. Yes, and there is nothing to steal - unless someone needs someone else's cross?
Landmarks for tourists
There is a mountain of crosses in Lithuania. How to get there? Very simple: on the highway Riga - Kaliningrad, north of the town of Šiauliai, you need to turn behind the village of Domantai - there is even a sign.Organized free entry to the territory, only parking is paid. There is a help desk, toilet and souvenir shop.