Vilnaus gatve pedestrian boulevard at night

Siauliai is the fourth largest city in Lithuania, with a population over 100,000. It is one of the oldest cities in Lithuania, considered to have been established in 1236. It is nicknamed Sun City (Saule means Sun) after the Battle of Saule (Battle of the Sun) that took place somewhere near here in 1236.

Get in

You can get to Siauliai by train or by bus from most other cities in Lithuania. The schedules for buses you can find from Busturas and railways from Litrail.

Get around

Siauliai is not a big city, so you need no more than buses or just your own feet. Buses go all through Siauliai. There are daily buses that go to places around the city.

City buses run from 5:00-23:00. You can by tickets in the kiosks, one ticket costs LTL1,80.

The microbuses go from 6:00-23:00. You can buy tickets in the microbus. One ticket costs LTL2,00.


Hill of Crosses

The Hill of Crosses (Kryžių Kalnas) 12 km north of Šiauliai is a national centre of pilgrimage. Standing upon a small hill are many hundreds of thousands of crosses that represent Christian devotion and a memorial to Lithuanian national identity. Over the centuries, the Hill has come to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholicism. After the 3rd partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire.

The Hill of Crosses
A pathway inside the Hill of Crosses

Poles and Lithuanians unsuccessfully rebelled against Russian authorities in 1831 and 1863. The two uprisings are thought to be connected with the contemporary use of the hill as a religious site. When families could not locate bodies of perished rebels during the uprisings, they started putting up symbolic crosses in the location of a former hill fort.

The city of Siauliai was founded in 1236 and controlled by Teutonic Knights during the 14th century. The tradition of placing crosses seems to date from this period and possibly rose as a symbol of Lithuanian defiance toward foreign invaders. Since the medieval period, the Hill of Crosses has represented the resistance of Lithuanian Catholicism to oppression. In 1795, Siauliai was incorporated into Russia but was returned to Lithuania in 1918. Many crosses were erected upon the hill after the peasant uprising of 1831-63.

The Hill of Crosses after a snowfall

The region was occupied by Germany during World War II and Siauliai suffered damage when Soviet Russia retook it at war's end. The Siauliai region was a part of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1944 until Lithuania’s independence in 1991. During the Soviet era, the pilgrimage to the Hill of Crosses became an expression of Lithuanian nationalism. The Soviets repeatedly removed the crosses placed on the hill by many nationalistic and Christian Lithuanians.

In 1961, 1973 and 1975 the Hill was cleared and the crosses were burned or turned into scrap metal with the area being covered with waste to discourage further similar activities at the site. On each occasion the local inhabitants and pilgrims from all over Lithuania replaced the crosses on the hill.

The hill is currently visited by many thousands of visitors and pilgrims from all over the world. The number of crosses was estimated at 55,000 in 1990, and by 2006 the number had grown to an estimated 100,000. Diverse styles, designs and sizes are represented among the crosses. Some are carved out of wood, others sculpted from metal. The crosses range from 3m tall to countless tiny examples hanging upon and about the larger crosses.

On 7 September 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses, declaring it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice. In 2000 a Franciscan hermitage was opened nearby. The interior decoration of this monastery draws upon La Verna, the mountain where St. Francis received his stigmata.

By car, take the A12 road, toward Joniskis; Ryga. After the roadsign "KRYZIU KALNAS - 2 km", turn right.
By bus: From Siauliai bus station, Joniskis direction. Leave the bus at the DOMANTAI stop.



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