The Crooked Forest (Nowe Czarnowo, West Pomerania – Poland)

The Crooked Forest (Nowe Czarnowo, West Pomerania – Poland)

At first, Gryfino Forest looks to be a run-of-the-mill field of trees. And then you see it: a group of 400 pines, each with a mysterious, dramatic bend close to the ground.

The trees’ unusual but uniform “J” shape is likely the result of human intervention—probably farmers who manipulated the trees with the intention of turning them into curved furniture. The pines, planted in 1930, had around ten years of normal growth before being distorted. An alternative theory holds that regular flooding caused the unusual shapes.

Sources: Atlas Obscura

Hill of Crosses (Meškuičiai, Šiauliai – Lithuania)

Hill of Crosses (Meškuičiai, Šiauliai – Lithuania)

Crosses have been accumulating on this small hill since the 14th century, when Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire occupied the nearby city of Šiauliai. New crosses tend to appear during periods of occupation or unrest as symbols of Lithuanian independence. This was particularly evident during a peasant uprising against Russian control in 1831, when people began placing crucifixes in remembrance of missing and dead rebels. By 1895, there were 150 large crosses on the site. In 1940, the number had grown to 400.

During the Soviet occupation, which lasted from 1944 to 1991, the Hill of Crosses was bulldozed three times. Each time, locals and pilgrims returned to put up more crosses. The site achieved worldwide fame when Pope John Paul II visited in 1993 to thank Lithuanians for their enduring symbol of faith.

There are now approximately 100,000 crosses on the hill. The faithful are welcome to add their contribution, in whatever form they wish—a crucifix made of Legos recently joined the collection.

Sources: Atlas Obscura