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Hill Of Crosses / BeskrivningThe Ristimägi that we know today is an area with sandy hillocks covered with crosses on both sides of the old main road, but especially on the left side. There are many different versions of the story of how the hill of crosses came to be, but its connection to the deportation of the Swedes of Reigi in August 1781 is the one most often cited. Despite everything that this small national community of about 1,000 did to protect their rights, they ended up stripped of their land by Stenbock. Catherine the Great of Russia signed a decree allowing the Swedes to resettle in a new area in southern Ukraine. Quite a few high officials were connected with this unconventional story, like Catherine’s protégé, duke Potemkin. The Swedes had no other choice but to follow the orders and bid farewell to the place they had called home for four or five centuries. Deportees from nearby villages gathered together for a final church service at what is now Ristimägi on August 20, 1781. They made a cross, under which Reigi’s pastor Forsmann spoke. People made many smaller crosses as well. In May 1782, only a little bit more than half of the travellers reached the “promised land”. At first, the hill of crosses was a place where anyone leaving the island went to make and place their cross. Nowadays things have changed: it is newcomers and first-time visitors to the island who make and leave crosses.
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