“Trys kryžiai” or, The Hill of Three Crosses, Vilnius, Lithuania
Designed by Polish-Lithuanian artist, Antoni Wiwulski (the borders changed so frequently that a mixed nationality is common) in 1916, these concrete crosses in Kalnai Park overlook the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. They were torn down in 1950 by the Soviets (who else…), and only reinstated in that monumental year of 1989 by Henrikas Silgalis. The site has a history of crosses dating back to 1636, and legend has it that they were erected in memory of 7 Franciscan monks were tortured to death in 1333 by local pagans. Another version stars two murdered friars, killed in 1340 by the charming Duke of Lithuania Gediminias (who gave name to the tower which the Three Crosses overlook). No one really knows why the Three Crosses were built—but two things are certain: one, the Crosses are a monument that stirs memories of a nation’s resilience, and two, the view from the hill is unbeatable!
Góra Trzech Krzyży overlooking Kazimierz Dolny, Poland.
These three crosses stand atop a hill in the small Polish town of Kazimierz Dolny. Quietly overlooking the Vistula River, Kazimierz Dolny is a surviving medieval town (a rare sight in Poland) that has long been known as an artist’s weekend getaway. To get an amazing view of the town, river, and surrounding countryside, one can climb up the small mountain, at the top of which stands these three simple wooden crosses. Some believe the crosses were erected in response to the terrible cholera epidemic in the 1700s, though it seems this was a holy spot long before the plague, and relics have been found in the site that long pre-date the epidemic. Regardless of the origins of the crosses, the Góra Trzech Krzyży (Hill of Three Crosses in Polish), creates a gorgeous painting of the Polish countryside!