Lithuanian capital city is decorated with three magnificent white crosses on a high hill. They are not just a symbol of the city of Vilnius, but also a monument for the national identity and resistance to the occupation. Climb on the Hill of Three Crosses and overlook all Vilnius like it was on the palm of your hand. That is why tourists come here, along with newlyweds who want to capture their most important moments of life, and romance lovers come here for sunsets.
Prehistory and symbolism
Historical events related to the erection of the crosses take us back to the 14th century. Then, seven Franciscan monks were murdered in pagan Lithuania. Three wooden crosses were initially built on the hill for their memory. In 1916, the monument of Three Crosses of reinforced concrete emerged on the site. In those times concrete was a brand new building material, and the Three Crosses were some of the first concrete structures in Vilnius.
Old crosses inside the new ones
In 1950, following the instruction of Soviet authorities, the Three Crosses in Vilnius were destroyed. However, residents of Vilnius wanted them to be restored, so in 1989, with the resistance of the authorities, three crosses were rebuilt on the old foundation. Archaeologists have unearthed the old concrete cross debris – some of them are exhibited at the foot of the Hill of the Three Crosses, while other parts are casted into the newly casted crosses.
Kalnų Park area encompasses Gediminas grave, Bekešas and Stalo hills
The Hill of Three Crosses stands in Kalnų Park, which has several expressive hills. Here you can take a walk on the Gediminas Hill grave, named after the famous duke buried here, who in 1323 founded the Lithuanian capital city. On top of this mountain come not only those who want to admire the panorama of Vilnius city, but also the Balts religious community members who celebrate their holidays at the pagan altar.
Stalo Hill is attracted by its appearance and received the name for its shape, as it is levelled as a table top. Climb onto it and have fun, outing or games or just relax in the forest surrounded by the beautiful panorama of the city.
Another hill of Kalnų Park area is Bekešas. Its name comes from Kasparas Bekešas, one of the most famous warlords of Lithuania and Poland of that time who was buried there in 1580. He was buried here because the deceased had been of Arian faith and his remains were not accepted to the Catholic cemetery.
All of these magnificent hills important for the Lithuanian history are in the very centre of Vilnius. Under their foot stretches the handsome Old Town, roofs of churches, museums, and many narrow and beautiful streets.