A small-sized oblong concave hill thickset with crosses is situated in the countryside, approximately 12 km north of Šiauliai, a short way off the railway line Šiauliai–Riga. This is the famous Hill of Crosses attesting respect and loyalty to the sacrifice of the Cross through which Christ has saved the people of all times and generations. The Hill of Crosses evokes not only the suffering and death of the Redeemer but also His resurrection and exaltation, and at the same time exaltation of every human through mystery of the Cross. Those who travel to the Hill of Crosses to pray and erect crosses testify to the strength gushing out of the Cross, inexhaustible hope, and faith in God’s love.
In the Middle Ages, there used to stand a wooden castle on the hill, referred to as “Kula” in chronicles. It was destroyed by the Livonian army in 1348. Over the years, the hill stood bare. In the middle of the 19th century, crosses sprang up on the hill known as Castle Hill, Jurgaičiai Mound, Domantai Mound, and Prayers Hill among people. According to local people, the first crosses were erected praying for good health. Other stories say that crosses began to emerge on the hill in memoriam to those killed in the Rebellion of 1863. Having subdued the rebels, the Tsar’s government banned erection of crosses; people who had crosses in their homesteads were punished and the crosses were torn down. Despite this, devout people did not have the least intention to abandon erection of crosses; instead they would choose a more remote site such as apparently was the Hill of Crosses. Therefore, the Hill of Crosses also signifies the faith strong enough to surmount any obstacles.
Despite suppressions carried out by the Tsar’s government and the World War I, the Hill of Crosses was gradually growing. The Hill flourished in the interwar period. People climbed it to pray and attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In particular, lots of people gathered on the Hill on high-days in summer. The Feast Day celebrations used to take place at the Hill of Crosses in the middle of July. The Hill was besieged by thousands of people on such days.
During the Soviet occupation, erection of crosses on the Hill was strictly forbidden and pilgrims were being chased and punished. Moreover, the Hill itself was severely damaged several times: all the existent crosses were swept off and roads leading to the Hill were cut off. At one time, attempts were made to flood the Hill of Crosses. However everything that happened was contrary to the occupation government’s expectations: the more severe was the destruction of the Hill, the more powerful was its recurrence. People would put up crosses at night and carry them in spite of danger, prohibition and persecution. The Hill of Crosses became the symbol of heroic resistance to suppression of the freedom of faith.
As soon as Lithuania regained its independence, the Hill of Crosses began to attract a continuous stream of pilgrims. Since the Hill could no longer accommodate all the crosses, people began putting them up at the foot of the Hill. The most important event in the history of the Hill of Crosses which brought fame to it throughout the world was a visit made to the Hill by Pope John Paul II on 7 September 1993. The Holy Father prayed at the Hill of Crosses, sacrificed the Holy Mass in the chapel by the Hill, and addressed a huge crowd of the faithful gathered at the Hill, “Let this Hill of Crosses at the end of the second Millennium after Christ’s coming testify and declare a new third Millennium, declare salvation and redemption nowhere else to be found but in the Cross and Resurrection of our Redeemer”. The Pope referred to his visit to the Hill of Crosses in his later speeches on numerous occasions.
After having visited the Franciscan Sanctuary of La Verna in Italy, John Paul II encouraged the Franciscans to build a hermit of the Franciscan Brothers by the Hill of Crosses. The monastery was built on 8 July 2000 and consecrated.
BY BUS/ COACH
Šiauliai Bus Station (Tilžės St. 109, Šiauliai)
Stop No. 12
Ticket: ŠIAULIAI–DOMANTAI (the Hill of Crosses)
To get off at Domantų stop (the third one from Šiauliai), then walk for 2 km up to the Hill of Crosses DEPARTURE TIME
Departure times: 6:35 (no Sundays and Saturdays), 7:35 (no Sundays), 8:25, 10:25 (no Sundays), 11:00,
12:15, 13:30 (no Sundays), 14:45, 17:30, 18:10 (no Sundays), 19:30, 21:25.
To drive on road A12 from Šiauliai for approximately 10 km towards the direction for Riga up to sign „Kryžių kalnas 2 km“ (2 km to the Hill of Crosses), then turn right.
To drive on road A12 from Joniškis town for approximately 30 km towards the direction for Šiauliai up to sign „Kryžių kalnas 2 km “ (2 km to the Hill of Crosses), then turn left.
To ride on the bicycle track by road A12 from Šiauliai for approximately 10 km towards the direction for Riga up to sign „Kryžių kalnas 2 km“ (2 km to the Hill of Crosses), then turn right.
To ride on the bicycle track by road A12 from Joniškis town for approximately 30 km towards the direction for Šiauliai up to sign „Kryžių kalnas 2 km “ (2 km to the Hill of Crosses), then turn left. The bicycle track leads from Joniškis town to the boundary of Šiauliai district and then the main road should be taken up to the Hill of Crosses.
ŠIAULIAI DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY COUNCIL APPROVED by Šiauliai District Municipality Council on 16 May 2013 by the Resolution No. T-129
THE RULES FOR THE VISITING, ERECTION OF CROSSES AND MAINTENANCE OF THE HILL OF CROSSES-JURGAIČIAI, DOMANTAI MOUND WITH A SETTLEMENT (23879)
I. GENERAL PROVISIONS
1. The Rules for the Visiting, Maintenance and Erection of Crosses of the Hill of Crosses – Jurgaičiai, Domantai Mound with a Settlement (unique code – 23879) (hereinafter referred to as the Hill of Crosses) (hereinafter referred to as the Rules) establish the procedures of the public use, visiting, maintenance and cross erection, event organising of the object of cultural heritage as well as forbidden activities and the liability for the violations of these Rules.
2. The Hill of Crosses is the state significance object of cultural heritage (the level of significance – national), the monument of the cultural heritage of cultural and public significance, the nature of the valuable qualities thereof is sacral (determining its significance, importance), sightseeing, archaeological (determining its significance, importance), of cultural expression (determining its significance, importance), mythological (determining its significance, importance), historical (determining its significance, importance). This is a memorial place wrapped in a shroud of legends, full of artistic and ethnographic valuables, the symbol of the nation’s sufferings in the 20th century hope and resistance, the open-air museum, which became famous in the whole world after the visit of the Blessed Pope John Paul II on 7 September 1993. One of the most prominent sites of the way of pilgrims of John Paul II in Lithuania.
3. The territory of the Hill of Crosses (6.3786 ha, the unique number of the land plot 9134-0011-0051), the objects of cultural heritage in it (the Chapel of the Hill of Crosses, the unique number – 3295, the mound with the unique number - 3295 and the settlement with the unique number – 23880 constituting the complex), the cultural landscape are preserved and shall be used in compliance with the regulations of the Law on Territory Planning of the Republic of Lithuania, the Law on the Preserved Territories of the Republic of Lithuania, the Law on the Protection of the Immovable Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Lithuania, the detailed plans of the Hill of Crosses developed and approved in compliance with the procedures established by this law (hereinafter referred to as the Detailed Plans), the Regulation of Protection of the Preserved Object of Cultural Heritage developed by the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture, Šiauliai Territorial Unit (hereinafter referred to as the Regulation) as well as norms of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Convention.
4. The maintenance of the Hill of Crosses and public use in accordance with the purpose thereof shall be ensured by Šiauliai District Municipality Administration (hereinafter referred to as the Manager) and the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture (hereinafter referred to as the Department).
5. The visitors of the Hill of Crosses as well as natural persons and legal entities (hereinafter referred to as the visitors) performing their activities on the Hill of Crosses shall be obliged to comply with the requirements of the Law on the Preserved Territories of the Republic of Lithuania, the Law on Environmental Protection of the Republic of Lithuania, the Law on Protection of the Immovable Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Lithuania and other laws and legislation regulating activities in preserved territories, the solutions of detailed plans as well as the requirements of the present Rules.
6. The visitors of the Hill of Crosses shall have a possibility to familiarise themselves freely with the present Rules.
II. REQUIREMENTS AND RESTRICTIONS FOR THE VISITING OF THE HILL OF CROSSES
7. The Hill of Crosses may be visited for cognition and public use by individuals and groups of visitors in compliance with the procedures established by the present Rules.
8. Natural persons and legal entities having agreed fifteen days in advance with the Manager (Cultural Heritage Department), Šiauliai District Police Office, Šiauliai District Fire and Rescue Service with the approval of the Cultural Heritage Department Šiauliai Territorial Unit may be allowed at the Hill of Crosses:
8.1. to organise mass events, where the number of visitors exceeds 100;
8.2. to use temporary constructions, equipment or technical means;
8.3. to perform the works of cultural landscaping, cultural heritage research and trimming;
8.4. to perform other activities in compliance with the Regulation, specified in the Detailed Plans and the present Rules.
9. Taking photographs or shooting videos on the Hill of Crosses for commercial purposes is allowed upon receipt of the Manager’s (Šiauliai District Municipality Administration Cultural Heritage Department) permit.
10. The visitors of the Hill of Crosses have a right to:
10.1. visit the Hill of Crosses at any time of a day;
10.2. take photographs and shoot videos for non-commercial purposes;
10.3. use the existing infrastructure and provided services;
10.4. park their transport vehicles in special parking places, i.e. parking lots equipped for this purpose and marked with road signs;
10.5. erect only wooden crosses, crucifixes, pillars in compliance with the requirements of the present Rules.
11. Within the territory of the Hill of Crosses, it is prohibited to the visitors of the Hill of Crosses to:
11.1. drive motor transport vehicles within the territory of the Hill of Crosses and to park them at locations not intended to such purpose or not marked with respective signs;
11.2. ride bicycles on the mound called Šventkalnis (the Holly Mount), the Hill of Crosses, the Castle Hill (unique number - 3295);
11.3. make camping sites and fires at the places not designated to such purpose, not equipped and not marked places;
11.4. burn candles on the Hill of Crosses (except for the place especially intended for that purpose and marked), to smoke thus creating a fire hazard;
11.5. destruct and damage stands, signs and information indices, guidelines, designated to the marking of the Hill of Crosses, security equipment, milestones, to damage information and exposition equipment as well as to devastate infrastructural facilities;
11.6. cut or damage wilfully trees, bushes, to devastate lawns and flower beds, pick, uproot or remove decorative plants, destroy and dig the surface of the ground, destruct and pollute natural environment, pollute the river waters and banks;
11.7. make noise or otherwise disturb the visitors and pilgrims of the Hill of Crosses;
11.8. beg, collect wilfully funds without having received a permit from the Manager of the Hill of Crosses;
11.9. play music using audio equipment (except for the cases during organised events or having agreed with the authority supervising the Hill of Crosses);
11.10. disturb peace during pilgrimage processions and other ceremonies and spread sectarian strife;
11.11. impede the ongoing operations of heritage management and research;
11.12. destroy or otherwise damage existing constructions in the territory (crosses, crucifixes, pillars, etc.) as well as to change their location, appropriate them or use for own purposes without having agreed with the authority supervising the Hill of Crosses; 11.14. perform actions, which may cause the erosion of the surface of the ground, to dig, to open the ground, to damage the Valuables;
11.15. walk dogs and other animals in the territory of the Hill of Crosses.
12. The visitors of the Hill of Crosses shall be obliged to:
12.1. preserve the Hill of Crosses, its natural environment, landscape, to cherish the Valuables or the features of the value thereof;
12.2. comply with the prohibitions and restrictions stated in the present Rules and the existing stands as well as signs;
12.3. respect the rights of other visitors;
12.4. notify the Manager about the noticed cases of the devastation of the valuables and natural environment (Cultural Heritage Department).
13. In the event of a direct threat of the damage of the valuable characteristics of the Hill of Crosses, the authorities responsible for the protection of cultural heritage may limit the visiting and using of the object of the cultural heritage.
III. PROCEDURE OF THE ERECTION OF CROSSES ON THE HILL OF CROSSES
14. Pursuing to maintain the authenticity of the Hill of Crosses, the traditions of the erection of crosses and the general aesthetical image of the Hill of Crosses, visitors shall have a right to erect wooden crosses, crucifixes, pillars up to 3 metres height without prejudice to the existing constructions and sacredness, without destroying of earlier erected objects.
15. The persons concerned shall apply to the Manager (Meškuičiai Sub-district) concerning the selection of a place for the erection of higher than 3 metres (above the ground surface) constructions (wooden crosses, crucifixes, pillars and etc.).
16. It is allowed to restore, renew the already erected crosses as well as to erect other objects (constructions) not listed in article 14 within the territory of the Hill of Crosses only having received a written permit from the Manager (Cultural Heritage Department).
17. It is expressly prohibited for the visitors of the Hill of Crosses:
17.1. to destroy, destruct, re-erect willingly the earlier erected objects of the Hill of Crosses; 17.2. to erect crosses from cemetery with the name of the deceased or crosses, which remained from the grave of a deceased after the funeral;
17.3. to erect crosses on paths and in the square.
IV. MAINTENANCE OF THE HILL OF CROSSES
18. In compliance with the Regulation, the Manager of the Hill of Crosses shall:
18.1. supervise and maintain continuously the Hill of Crosses, the territory thereof, shall eliminate timely any occurring defects and shall protect against any negative environmental impact;
18.2. notify the Cultural Heritage Department about any threats arising to the cultural valuable, which he/ she is not able to eliminate or does not have required qualifications or permits;
18.3. allow the Department to mark the object of cultural heritage with typical and individually created boards, plates and indices;
18.4. receive the Department’s consent in case of any intention to divide the preserved object to separate parts, to change the regimen of the building of the territory, the purpose of buildings, to equip commercial advertisements, outdoor antennas and other technical facilities;
18.5. get the Department’s permit in order to perform trimming, management works of heritage protection or trimming, management construction works;
18.6. allow to the specialists of the Department to inspect visually the object of cultural heritage, to record its condition and to perform tests, investigations, examinations under agreed conditions.
19. In compliance with the Regulation, the Manager of the Hill of Crosses (Meškuičiai Sub-district) shall:
19.1. perform the works of the maintenance and supervision of the Hill of crosses and the territory thereof;
19.2. preserve the valuable characteristics of the object, traditions, materiality and other features of authenticity;
19.3. within the competence advises natural persons and legal entities on selection of a location for erection of the crosses;
19.4. issue permits to natural persons and legal entities trading at the Hill of Crosses and control the activities thereof.
20. The trade of religious merchandise, crosses, souvenirs as well as other merchandise designated to tourism at the Hill of Crosses is allowed only in specially designated areas in compliance with the Rules of Trade in Markets and Public Places of Šiauliai District as well as the applicable legislation of the Republic of Lithuania.
V. LIABILITY FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE PRESENT RULES
21.Within the territory of the Hill of Crosses, natural persons and legal entities must comply with activity and behaviour restrictions established in the present Rules, the laws specified therein as well as other legislation.
22. Natural persons and legal entities having made any damage to the Hill of Crosses, the valuable characteristics of the territory and safety zones thereof shall be obliged to compensate the damage as much as possible in kind (to restore the initial condition of the Valuable or the territory) as well as to compensate direct and indirect losses in compliance with the procedures erstablished by the laws and other legislation of the Republic of Lithuania.
23. Crosses, other constructions, erected in violation of the present Rules or laws shall be destroyed and the costs of demolition shall be presented to compensate to the erector.
24. Natural persons and legal entities having violated the requirements of the present Rules shall be liable in compliance with the procedures established by the laws of the Republic of Lithuania.
VI. FINAL PROVISIONS
25. The Rules shall be published on the website of Šiauliai District Municipality Administration and the information stand of the Hill of Crosses.
26. All and any supplements, amendments or new wordings of the Rules shall be approved by the Council of Šiauliai District Municipality.
The monastery was solemnly consecrated on 8 July 2000.
The monastery has several cells, a chapel, and a library. The chapel is decorated with the stained glass by Algirdas Dovydėnas, representing the history of the Franciscan friars, an expressive altar, a tabernacle and a pulpit (author: painter Rimantas Sakalauskas). The reliefs of the altar reveal the links between the Hill of Crosses and Mount La Verna. While he was praying on the Mountain of Verna, St. Francis received the Holy Stigmata, the wounds of Christ.
A novitiate of the Lithuanian Franciscan Province of St. Casimir was founded in the sanctuary of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM, Franciscans). The Franciscan Brothers at the same time serve as custodians of the Hill of Crosses. The monastery can shelter worshippers wishful of quiet moments of concentration.
Service in the Monastery Chapel
The chapel of the Hill of Crosses Monastery is open 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Holy Mass on workdays at 6.00 p.m., on Saturdays and Sundays at 11.00 a.m.
The Holy Mass may be reserved, confessions made and religious items consecrated 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
For reservation of the Holy Mass, please call: +370 41 52 77 33.
Sacraments of Baptism and Marriage are not administered.