On my first visit in 2005 I was trying to see as much as I could of Vilnius. From the Cathedral Square I’d looked up and seen the three white crosses among the trees and decided I had to go up there.
I walked round the cathedral past the National Museum on Arsenalo g.parallel to the river on my left then turned into the first gates I came to. This was the entrance to the the castle park (Kalnų Park) where I saw the paddling pool and the children’s swan boats. I crossed the River Vilnia and walked along the bank until I came to the steps cut into the hillside.
On the ground there are the previous crosses which had been blown up on Stalin’s orders in soviet times and buried. They were uncovered and left so visitors can see what had happened.
These are obviously not the original crosses which were wooden and dated back to the 17c. They collapsed in 1869 and not replaced by the tsarist authorities. These are the crosses designed by Antoni Wiwulski which were secretly erected in 1916 but blown up by the soviet authorities in 1950.
The new taller crosses to replace them were designed by Henrikas Šilgalis and erected and consecrated in 1989.
When you walk up to the back of the three crosses you realise how big they are. There was only one other tourist there, a German, so we took each other’s photographs. Walking round to the front of the crosses there is a magnificent view across the city.
After a few minutes of peace we were disturbed by a large group of tourists who certainly hadn’t come up the hill as I had. I then discovered the easier way up to the crosses. If I’d walked bit further past the museum to where Arsenalo g. changes to T. Kosciuškos g. I would have found the road which winds round and up past an auditorium to the three crosses.
It’s a place I have revisited more than once and a must-see in my opinion if only for the panoramic view of the city.