Seemingly, only plains and forests, but when taking a closer look, the landscape of Lithuania is hiding many wonders.
The glaciers, which moved over Lithuania thousands of years ago, crammed hills, ridges and cliffs. The Balts living in those areas in the ancient times built their castles, altars for the gods and planted the ceremonial oaks in those higher places. The hills were worshipped, songs were sung and legends created. In our days, not only folklore about the hills and ridges remained, but rituals, remembered and repeated by the Lithuanians as a joke or not, as well. For example, bringing a stone together, symbolising a sacrifice to the pagan gods, when visiting a hill.
The not so abundant giant hills embellishing Lithuania attract tourists wishing to view the beauty of the country from above during all seasons. In summer on the hills and humps the fires of Joninės are lit and other calendar holidays are celebrated, and in winter, the sloping hills are enjoyed by children and adults rushing down with sleds and skis.
A magnificent panoramic view opens up from the Ladakalnis located in the district of Ignalina. From a birds-eye view and a 175 meter high hill you’ll be able to view the tops of the forest and the calm waters of the six lakes. The history of the hill is no less beautiful as the scenery itself. Long ago, a shrine of the Balts stood on this hill to one of the oldest goddesses of this region – to the mother of all life Lada. Back then the pagans would bring her goods on this hill – food, money, expensive jewellery and fabrics. The locals can still confirm this – it is inappropriate to climb the hill empty handed. However, the expensive sacrifices were exchanged to more modest ones. Nowadays, the climbers carry pebbles. Once you’re on the top, you must leave the “sacrifice” at the oak growing on the top of the hill. And don’t forget to make a wish!
The cliffs expanding near the village of Mančiagirė in the district of Varėna charm with their scenery. The 28 meter high cliffs washed away by Lithuania’s swiftest stream Ūla are constantly changing, because the river waters keep eroding them and giving them a unique appearance every time. The river itself is loved by the kayakers. At the cliffs of Mančiagirė they have to make huge effort to pass, since the slopes of the cliffs are drifting down and the trees falling in the water usually block the way. On top of the cliff, there is a safe observational deck from which a breath taking view opens up. Here you can see the spring called the “Eye of the Ūla”. Its underground waters spew out with such pressure that it looks as if the spring is boiling.
The moving glaciers caused mayhem in the territories where the large cities lay now. For example, the ridge in the district of Šeškinė in Vilnius, called the Šeškinė esker. Reaching up to 18 meters in height, the ridge curves for over a kilometre and ends with a small round lake. Not all the locals know that this geological phenomenon is quite rare in the world, but nine ridges of this kind can be found in Lithuania.
Though the Eastern part of Lithuania tends to have more hills, however, the seaside can offer some magnificent discoveries. If you’re visiting the Baltic Sea, don’t miss out on the cliff, called the Dutchman’s Cap. The seamen looking from the side of the sea envisaged a silhouette of a Dutchman’s cap and so were this area called. Besides, the Dutch merchants used to live there long ago. A romantic view opens up when looking at a sandy 25 meter high cliff from the shore of the sea, as well as looking from the top, which is covered in pine trees. The soft and white sand shoreline is dotted with smaller and larger stones, which have been washed from the cliff by water. Take a walk on the shoreline along the cliff – you’ll see tens of streamlets and springs oozing from the slope of the Dutchman’s Cap.
Don’t miss the Hill of Witches rising behind the lagoon near Juodkrantė. A 42 meter high hill looks as if it is split in two and covered in charming seaside pine trees. The legend goes that during the shortest nights of the year, the feasts of the witches would take place on the hill and even the oldest witch, goddess Ragė, would come. Nowadays, the wooden sculptures of witches, devils, dragons and sea pixies embellish the hill. And instead of the feasts of the witches, the locals celebrate Joninės here. Because of this tradition, the hill is sometimes also called the Hill of Jonai.
You will find more information about these and other objects of nature of Lithuania in the www.lietuvosgamta.lt website. You’ll be able to see the each of the nature’s objects in unique photographs, listen to the advice in the audio guides and view video recordings about the nature of Lithuania. You’ll be able to find each object easily by using the coordinates and maps provided in the website.