Further in the west there lies the other majestic city along the Silk Road: Buxoro or Bukhara. While Xiva is a beautiful but somewhat enclosed desert city, in Buxoro the connection to the world outside of Central Asia can be felt. In particular influences from Persia and India can be seen here (just look at the first picture). The connecting element to other cities along the Silk Road are the blue cupolas, being the symbols or landmarks of Usbekistan. Oh, and of course the Soviet cars (picture three). I like how the color of many of them still resemble an older kind of (groaning) vehicles 😉 And in case you wonder, the title of an “Enchanted City” was given to Buxoro by the diplomat Fitzroy Maclean, who worked as a diplomat in the British Embassy in Moscow and visited Central Asia in 1938. Later he called the city “enchanted” and compared the architecture to the beauty of the Italian Renaissance. Indeed the mosaics and structures (mostly religious buildings) are a stunning sight.
The Hill of Crosses is a sacred place in Northern Lithuania close to the city of Silauliai. Basically it consists of two small artificial hills (maybe 5 to 6 meters high) in the midst of vast farming land. The origins of the crosses are largely unknown though there are many legends speaking of soldiers finding their last rest in the ground beneath. In the 19th century the place became regarded as mystical and holy. First crosses were erected in honor of fallen soldiers and in remembrance of deceased family members, later also to celebrate happy occasions like weddings and baptisms. The Soviets saw the hill as a place of fanatic cultism and closed it down. Despite the repressions they were not able to stop the tradition and after 1990 the Hill of Crosses grew even more becoming a national symbol of religion and endurance. Today crosses can be seen from around the world and not only catholic crosses but also orthodox and evangelical ones. If religious or not the place definitely doesn’t leave the visitor cold.