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Raganų Kalnas – the witness of a pagan past

We embarked on the ferry that goes from Klaipeda to the Curonian Spit on a beautiful, sunny July morning. It only takes a few minutes to cross to the other side and, once you are there, you start an unforgettable journey.

In less than half an hour of driving along the Curonian Spit, right in the heart of the small village of Juodkrantė (literally: Black Shore), you will come across the Hill of Witches or Raganų Kalnas, as they call it in Lithuanian. Coming from a country where we still keep lots of traditions and exciting stories related to witches and vampires, I decided to climb the hill and see how Lithuania was prepared to ”scare” me.

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A few trails drive you through this outdoor sculpture gallery, that at the moment contains no less than 80 wooden exhibits. The project was started in 1979 and since then has been continuously expanded. Lithuanians are known as the last pagans in Europe (Christianization took place here only in 1387) and indeed the past has served as an outstanding source of inspiration for the folk artists, who found their muses in the Lithuanian folklore and in the pagan traditions, deeply rooted in this corner of the old continent.Witches, demons, snakes and dragons, together with local characters from the Lithuanian legends were brought to life out of the oak trees, showing not only how rich the Lithuanian folklore is, but also honoring the long tradition of woodcarving in the region.

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Nowadays, walking along the paths you can chose to smile and admire the works, or you can take one step backwards and try to imagine the Festival of Saint John, taking place at Raganų Kalnas, with all the malefic spirits and the witches haunting the Midsummer night. Admission is free and if you ever get to pass by, allow the witches to charm you with their stories!

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