Posted in Culture/History

Eerie Hill of Crosses

One of the strangest, eerie places I have ever been to is Kryžių kalnas, or the Hill of Crosses, a pilgrimage site about 12 km north of Šiauliai, Lithuania. I was speechless, torn between wonder and disbelief, awe and unease.



It all starts in the 14th century when locals leave crosses on the former Domantai hill fort to remember a successful battle against the German knights. During the centuries to come, the hill becomes a sanctuary for Christians to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholicism.

Symbol of resistance

In the 19th century, after the two uprisings of 1831 and 1863, the place grows into a national symbol of resistance. Families start putting up symbolic crosses, to represent the bodies of their perished rebels. The number of crucifixes and other religious icons increases rapidly, well into the first years of Soviet domination.


Three times the Soviets decide to level Kryžių kalnas to the ground. Three times the people defy the strict ban of religion and severe surveillance, and leave their religious icons under cover of the night. They erect not only new crosses but also crucifixes, carvings of the Virgin Mary and of Lithuanian patriots. Cross-making has by now become part of the cultural heritage of Lithuania, a ‘symbol of national and religious identity, uniting the community in the face of adversity’.


In 1993 Pope John Paul II visits the Hill of Crosses and declares it a place for hope, peace, love, and sacrifice. In 2000 a Franciscan hermitage is opened nearby.


Number of crosses

1800’s over 9,000
1900 130
1902 155
1922 50
1938 over 400
1961 destroyed 5,000
1975 destroyed 1,200
1990 some 55,000
2006 over 100,000

And there’s no stopping it now. Today the amount is incomprehensible. Buses spew their loads into the parking lot, where stalls sell crosses in all sizes to the modern pilgrims. Ready-made symbols of worship contest with huge personal sculptures.

Sit back and watch

I left the stream of tourists and found my way to the outer edge of the hill. Away from the masses. Away from the overwhelming impressions. Away from the ghosts. Please take a moment and watch, listen, feel…


Wikipedia: Hill of Crosses

Posted in Culture/History, Ireland, Photo

Emeralds of Ireland: Sí an Bhrú

Passage grave of Knowth


Posted in Culture/History

50 Ways to Welcome the New Year

What’s the matter with the years nowadays? Good old fashioned years seemed to last forever, but now they race, each day gaining speed until you tumble headfirst into a brand new year. Nothing to do about it, but to live in the here and now, I guess. To celebrate each new day with (as much) enthusiasm and joy (as you can muster), even when they’re boring or hard.

2016 closes in. In the Netherlands we count down until the magic transition second into the new year has arrived, then we hug, kiss, drink champagne, contact loved ones who are far away, and head outside to light fireworks and firecrackers – usually the men, while the women chat and laugh about their boyish enthusiasm.

What do you do at New Year’s Eve to celebrate the arrival of a brand new year in your country? Is this infographic correct, or do you want to add more amazing rituals? 😀


Infographic @ Daily Mail Online

Posted in Photo challenge

Travel theme: Silver

These last months medieval silver came my way, or rather, I went their way!

Do you like these tin men?


140117Silver2Or do you prefer the more subtle artifacts?




Perhaps this silver key?



for a larger image, please click the photos

Which photo is your favorite?


< Ailsa’s Travel Theme Challenge



Posted in Art, Culture/History, Photo, Photo challenge

Travel theme: Symbol

Newspaper Rock


for a larger image, please click the photo

Newspaper Rock is a petroglyph panel etched in sandstone that records approximately 2,000 years of early man’s activity. Prehistoric peoples, probably from the Archaic, Basketmaker, Fremont and Pueblo cultures, etched on the rock from B.C. time to A.D. 1300. In historic times, Utah and Navajo tribesmen, as well as Anglos, left their contributions.

There are no know methods of dating rock art. In interpreting the figures on the rock, scholars are undecided as to their meaning or have yet to decipher them. In Navajo, the rock is called ” Tse’ Hane’ ” (rock that tells a story).

Unfortunately, it is not known if the figures represent story telling, doodling, hunting magic, clan symbols, ancient graffiti or something else. Without a true understanding of the petroglyphs, much is left for individual admiration and interpretation.

Newspaper Rock is listed on the United States Register of National Historic Places and it was designated a state historical monument in 1961.

Symbols are universal throughout the ages and their stories are as lively as they were thousands of years ago.

< Ailsa’s Travel Theme Challenge