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Amid lush green hills in the Lithuanian countryside, just outside the city of Šiauliai, a strange sight greets visitors: tens of thousands of crosses, big and small, made out of metal, wood or granite are piled on top of each other. While their purpose is at first unclear, as visitors move along the crosses that snake uphill, their function is sadly unveiled.
The year 1831 was an important one for Lithuania as it marked the end of the November Uprising (1830-31), during which partitioned Poland sought independence from the Russian Empire. The neighboring states of Western Belarus, parts of Ukraine and Lithuania (also belonging to the Russian Empire) soon joined the uprising. Despite this support, the insurgents only had about one third of the strength of the Russian Army, and soon the uprising was crushed resulting in the loss of some 40,000 men.
The number of crosses left at the site has grown significantly in recent years. They roughly doubled between 1990 and 2006, growing from around 55,000 to over 100,000.