The distinctive white monument of the Three Crosses rises up from the greenery on one of the seven hills that surround Vilnius. According to legend, this hilltop was where Franciscan friars were martyred. Stroll up the hill to see the site that has been venerated since the early 17th century. Look out from the viewing platform to see a broad panorama of the city and beyond.
The Bychowiec Chronicle, an anonymous 16th-century work on the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania,says that 14 Franciscan friars came to Vilnius and preached the gospel. Local townspeople were angered and burned the monastery. Seven of the friars were beheaded on the hilltop previously known as Bleak Hill and the other seven were crucified before being thrown into the River Neris. While the story’s accuracy is unknown, the cult of the 14 friars has spread since the 16th century. See the latest recreation of three crosses standing on the hilltop honoring their memory.
Explore Kalnų Park to find the footpath that leads up the hill of the Three Crosses. Climb the well-worn wooden stairs until you reach the grassy clearing on the hilltop. You’ll see the stark-white concrete crosses rising up from the grass. This monument was built in 1989 to replace the crosses that were torn down by Soviet authorities in 1950.
The Three Crosses monument stands on a platform, from which you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding cityscape and the other six hilltops around Vilnius. Try to spot the tall spires of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, the distinctive white bell tower of Vilnius Cathedral and Gediminas Tower on Castle Hill directly to the west. Visit the Three Crosses in the late afternoon to watch a breathtaking sunset.
The Three Crosses are located on a prominent hill in Kalnų Park. The park is east of Vilnius’ Old Town. The ascent up the hill is steep in parts and takes about 20 minutes. Visit the monument for free at any time of the day.