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main destination guide sights three crosses


SIGHTS IN VILNIUS

Three Crosses

    
    Three white crosses soaring over the hilltop in the Mountain Park is one of the most famous religious monuments in the country. Lithuania was heathen longer than any other European county. The Lithuanian religion of that period reminds of the Nordic Aesir cult, but with some differences in the pantheon. The year of the conversion of Lithuania is officially considered to be 1387, when Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, having become the King of Poland, christianized the country in accordance with the sacraments of Roman Catholicism, together with Vytautas, another Grand Duke of the Gediminas Dynasty. Up to that time numerous attempts to convert Lithuanian pagans had been rather unsuccessful, and the missionaries had been usually executed. The historians suppose that in the 13th century on this hill seven Franciscan monks, that preached the new religion, were murdered. The monks were crucified and then four of them were tossed into the river to check whether a new god could work wonders and save his servants.
    In the 13th century the third Vilnius castle, the so called Crooked Castle, stood on the hill on the bank of the river Vilnia. In 1390 it was burnt to the ground by the sword-bearers and never rebuilt. On its spot, in 1613, the first crosses were erected to honor the monks that had died the death of martyrs. In 1916 the concrete crosses designed by the architect A. Vivulskis replaced the old wooden ones. In the postwar years at the behest of the Soviet Government the crosses, as well as many other religious monuments, were blown up and buried. The Three Crosses Monument was re-erected on the day of commemoration of the June massive exiles of the population in 1941 (June 14, 1989). The blasted crosses lie nearby the new ones to remind the contemporaries of the tragic Lithuanian history and to warn the posterity against the neglecting of the country's tradition.
    From the top of the hill one can enjoy a breathtaking panorama of Vilnius. Not far from the hill the picturesque Gediminas Castle is located.



Address: Kalnu Parkas