Maramureș, România

by | Mar 24, 2018

The northwestern Romanian region of Maramures is home to many villages where century-old traditions are still part of daily life. The inhabitants of this area have preserved, to an amazing extent, the rural culture and crafts of their ancestors.
Maramures is dominated by a landscape of mountains and rolling valleys. The Gutai, Lapus, Tibles Maramures and Rodnei Mountains are cut by passes named Huta, Gutai, Prislop, Setref, and Botiza. Three large valleys cross the region: Viseu, Iza and Mara. The Rodnei Mountains National Park, a natural reserve filled with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, has been awarded biosphere status by UNESCO.
Maramures villages are distinguished by their unique wooden churches with tall spires and shingled roofs.
Almost 100 old wooden churches from Maramureș survived for hundreds of years, bringing to the present the talent and the imagination of the local artisans who built them into the unique “Gothic style of Maramureș”. Eight of these wooden churches are part of România UNESCO World Heritage Sites included on this famous list for their outstanding cultural values.
They are found in the villages of Barsana, Desesti, Surdesti, Ieud, Rogoz, Plopis and Poienile Izei.
The monastic components of Bârsana is made of wood as well, according to the local tradition. Only Bârsana craftsmen are building the compound, under the direct supervision of architect Dorel Cordoș. Today you can admire the Maramures gate, the belfry, the church, the summer shire, the house with cells and chapel, the house of the masters, the house of the artists and a more recently arranged museum portraying the Maramures history, culture and civilization.
Barsana Monastery is one of the landmarks of Maramures. The reason for that is the beautiful church and the other wooden buildings made by craftsmen from Maramures inside of assembly.
The Barsana Monastery church is one of the tallest wooden church in Romania, having 57m height.
When you visit Maramureș, for a unique experience, take the narrow-gauge steam train called “Mocanița”. Starting from the small town of Viseu de Sus, the steam railway runs along a scenic road for about 20km, chugging behind an old steam engine. The train provides the only access – other than walking – to settlements higher up in the valley. During stops, you can watch workers load firewood and take on water from clear mountain streams.
When you will visit Maramureș, you cannot miss a very a unusual and unique place: The Merry Cemetery (Romanian: Cimitirul Vesel).
The cemetery it’s called that way with good reason. Each grave is marked, not with an austere, cold stone, but with a lively, beautifully carved wooden cross, painted in the radiant blue of heaven and decorated with a painting and an original poem that disclose a little something about the life and character of the plot’s eternal inhabitant. Some of the verses are wickedly funny, others are more whimsical. Some are heartbreaking, telling of lives tragically cut short by accidents or illnesses.
The Blue Lake is one of the most important touristic attractions in Maramures county, in northern Romania.
The name of the lake comes from its green-blue color that offers visitors a  picturesque landscape – and lots of photo opportunities. However, the lake changes its color depending on the light or on the number of people that swim in it, making it a unique place. Due to the sulfides it contains, the lake has a green color with a pale touch of blue, but it becomes blue when several people swim in its waters.
You can reach the Blue Lake by foot, through the woods, in less than an hour. To access this area, you start from the center of Baia Sprie, follow the road behind the Catholic Church until you reach the forest and then follow the path to the lake. I can assure you it is worth to climb.

Not to miss.

1. The Wooden Churches of Maramures – in Barsana, Poeinile Izei, Budesti and Desesti;

2. The unique Merry Cemetery and the Wooden Church from Sapanta;

3. Vaser Valley with “Mocanita”- the narrow-gauge forest steam train – from Viseu de Sus;

4. The Rodnei Mountains National Park, a natural reserve filled with a rich diversity of flora and fauna;

How to get there.

By plane:
The closest airports are located in Baia Mare (10 km) and Cluj-Napoca (150km). From Bucharest Otopeni Airport it is a road distance of 600 km (aprox. 8 hours drive).

By train:
From Bucharest and any other major city, there are trains that go to Baia Mare and Sighetu Marmatiei.

By car:
The destination is also reachable by car, being located on the E58 European road if you drive from Cluj, or E81 European road if you drive from Targu Mures and Bucharest. The best way to travel inside Maramures would be to drive to the main locations and then to have some walks (or bike rides) in the rural area, through the villages and between them.

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