Magic in the Air!

In Baltic states, Europe, Places, Travel on February 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Raganu Kalnas or the Hill of Witches

When we asked about whether there was any place we should visit in Juodkranté in Lithuania and we were told, “Yes, there is the Hill of Witches. It’s quite close to here.”, I wasn’t very enthusiastic. The Hill of Witches? What kind of spooky place was this?

When we actually reached this place, it was anything but spooky. It is actually a collection of wood sculptures made by local artists and displayed in the open on a hill. Er, that said, we did lose our way more than just once. When you enter, there is a clear well, defined entrance and a sign telling you where to go in. But once you climb the hill and you are find yourself in the middle of this seemingly innocent forest, there is no sign telling you how to get out. One wrong turn and you are not even sure which road you had taken to get there in the first place.


Ok, enough spooky nonsense. I am just kidding 😉  It was actually amazing, in spite of the fact that you can get lost since there is not one well-defined route. We ended up arguing about which road to take and we also ended up walking a bit in circles until we finally got out of the forest at a point completely different from where we had gotten in.

In some ways I feel like I am taking up from my last post where I wrote on open-air museums, but it was absolutely great to be able to enjoy walking in a forest while admiring the sculptures. And these sculptures made of wood seemed to be exactly where they should be: in the open wilderness. They weren’t polished exhibits but more like exhibits one is meant to enjoy while it lasts. There were a decent number of them which had moss growing up on them. Apparently, the sculptors return every year during autumn to clean the existing ones and to add new ones. There are about 80 sculptures today.

In keeping with the magic of the place, the sculptures represent the fantasy world rather than the real world. Apparently, before the First World War, there used to be night-time celebrations here to mark the shortest night of the year which coincides with Saint John’s festival in June. Locals believe this hill was once inhabited by witches and demons who cheered and celebrated the shortest night and held jamborees here. A forester, enchanted by the place and the stories, came up with the idea of carving fairy-tale characters and installing them here and the first artist’s camp took place in 1979.

Walking through the oak forest, with sunlight streaming in from the gaps that the trees afford it, looking at the fairy-tale sculptures, with no other sound other than some birds far away, not another soul to be seen for hours since it covers a wide-enough expanse to afford you complete solitude at least for sometime, and catching the glimpse of the sea once in a while on the other side of the hill through the trees, I can assure you, there was enough magic in the air to make me understand why this place has enchanted visitors and locals over the years and how you can get lost here and completely forget the passage of time.

  1. […] sculptures but I have already written about this magical place in an earlier post so I redirect you there, instead of re-writing the same […]

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