Hill of Crosses

Risti küla

Initially, the people who were leaving the island came to the Hill of Crosses to make their crosses. Today, things are backwards – crosses are made by those who come to the island for the first time.

Here, on the former border of Reigi and Pühalepa parishes, a departure service was held on 20 August 1781 by the Swedes who were to leave Hiiumaa. Czarina Katarina II gave an order to resettle the Swedes to the south of Ukraine and the owner of Kõrgessaare estate Stenbock expelled free Swedish peasants from their farms. Thus they said farewell to the place that been home to the Swedes for at least 400 to 500 years.  About 1000 people started a bitter journey on the eve of winter and erected their first cross here. About half of them reached their destination in spring and established Gammalsvenskby village. Only on 1929, the government of the Soviet Russia allowed the Swedes to move to Sweden. Most of them landed in Gotland where Roma became their centre.

Everybody who visits this place may make a cross in memory of the Swedes of Hiiumaa. The cross should be made of local natural material without damaging nature. The person who makes a cross this way is believed to have good luck in the future. According to a legend, two wedding parties met on the narrow road of Ristimägi. Neither of them agreed to give the way. The bridegroom of one couple and the bride of the other perished in the  fight that broke out between the parties. The surviving bride and bridegroom were said to have got married later and to have lived happily ever after. Single people may find a partner and get married if they put up a cross in memory of those who were killed in the fight.


It is a waypoint on the journey

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