Maybe no other thing can better define the spirit of a nation
than its ancient traditions and customs. The traveler coming
from abroad will be surprised to discover that Romania is
a place of legends, myths and traditions preserved through
idyllic Maramures , placed in the northern part of
the country and spread over a surface totalizing 160 square
km, is definitely the most traditional Romanian region, a
place where the old peasant culture is combining on amazing
landscapes with unique wooden churches, traditional music
and unspoiled life style.
Also known as the land of the free Dacians by
the fact that it has never been conquered by the Romans, the
region of Maramures is effectively cut off from Transylvania
by a fortress of mountains. Woodcarving skills are the dominant
feature of Maramures crafts. Particularly characteristic for
the villages are wooden churches, with tall towers and shingled
roofs, many of them being on UNESCO World Heritage list.
Join us and enjoy the jokes of the painted crosses in Sapanta
Merrys Cemetery, experience the Romanian rural life
by staying in a local guesthouse on Iza valley, visit the
amazing Museum of Arrested Thought open in a former
communist prison in Sighet or visit some of the old wooden
churches part of the UNESCO heritage, are just a very few
highlights of our tour to Maramures.
We'll leave Cluj in the morning and after over 200 km driving,
we'll stop for a unch in Baia-Mare. Soon after we'll pass
Gutai mountain from where we can consider ourselves being
in the land of Maramures.
Thanks to its richness in gold, silver, lead, copper, salt,
its large pastures and natural hay fields, forests and agriculture
fields, its fauna and flora, Maramures was inhabited since
many centuries ago. Due to the very isolated position, the
Maramures county is also rich in ethnographic and folk elements.
The folk art is preserved here in a very original form: houses,
wood gates, tools, textures, pottery, wood churches built
in wood, uniquely in the world, specific customs. Because
of their age and architecture, 8 of the wood churches in Maramures
are placed on the UNESCO world heritage list.
Following the Mara valley, our first destination is the tiny
Orthodox church in Desesti, built in 1770 in the old
cemetery and dedicated to the Holy Paraskeva. Because of it's
traditional local architecture and especially of it's inside
paintings the church was listed on the UNESCO world cultural
and natural heritage. One of the most beautiful villages in
Maramures is Budesti, where we will have a traditional
lunch by a local family. The village old church, built in
1643, holds a small collection of icons painted on glass and
wood; their prize piece are 18th century painting of the Last
Judgment and also the coat of mail of Pintea Viteazul, a famous
outlaw who used to take from the rich (Hungarian and Austrian
nobility) and gave to the poor (Romanian peasants) and had
his hiding places in the forests on Mount Gutin.
Our next destination will be Sighetu
Marmatei, the major town of the Historical Maramures first
attested in 1326, and situated at the confluence of Tisa and
Iza rivers. Sighet (as it is locally known) is gathering inside
different touristy sights, but definitely the most important
one is the town's former maximum-security communist prison,
open today as a museum, named: "The Memorial of the victims
of communism and of the resistance". After the soviet
communists conquest the country one of their main target was
to destroy the Romanian political structure. In order to do
that, they organized fake trials upon which the Romanian democratic
leaders were imprisoned. Between 1948 and 1952 about 180 members
of Romania's academic and political elite were imprisoned
in Sighet. The museum, set up in 1993, was nominated by the
Council of Europe in October 1998, among the first three places
meant to ward off the European memory, along of the Auschwitz
Memorial and the Peace Memorial Normandy. After visiting the
prison we will pass by the only remaining synagogue and the
Elie Wiesel's house. The Jewish writer and Nobel peace prizewinner
(1986), Elie Wiesel was the one who coined the term "Holocaust";
he was borned in Sighet and later deported from here to the
The last touristy spot for this day will be Sapinta
village, 12 km north-west of Sighet, and just 4 km south of
the Ukrainian border. The local wooden sculpting technique
and the strongly Orthodox believe are illustrated in the church
cemetery, better known as SAPINTA'S MERRY CEMETERY. It was
the creation of Ioan Stan Patras, a simple wood sculptor,
who in 1935 started carving crosses to mark graves and to
paint them in blue, the traditional color of hope and freedom.
Even more interesting, he inscribed a witty epitaph to the
deceased on top of each cross, telling a different story about
the person's life or death. Sapinta's cemetery attracts thousands
of tourists yearly and is definitely one of the Maramures
highlights. The colored crosses and joking epitaphs reveal
the way those people lived and died. Since Patras' death,
Dumitru Pop, his apprentice, has carried on the tradition.
Close to the cemetery is the recently done highest wood church
in the world. By it's 74 meters high, done mostly by wood,
the church in Sapinta will became soon a very popular tourist
visiting place in the area.
After a long day, we'll finally go for a Romanian traditional
dinner and for the overnight staying in a local guest house
in Barsana, Poienile Izei or Botiza.
Dating from 1326, although the first
inhabited traces comes from the Iron Age, Birsana is
a traditional Maramures village, located on Iza valley. The
next day, soon after the breakfast we will visit the local
wood church and the monastery, a very popular pilgrimage spot
in Maramures. It was the last Orthodox monastery built in
the region before Serafim Petrovai - head of the Orthodox
church in Maramures converted to Greco-Catholicism in 1711.
Due to its extraordinary position and architectural style,
the church is listed on the UNESCO world heritage protected
Along Iza valley we'll go through several villages like Stramtura,
Rozavlea, heading to the remote village of Poienile Izei,
home to the most dramatic frescoes of hell in the entire area.
The church here was built in 1604 and the interior frescoes
dating from 1783, depict hell, symbolized by a ferocious bird
waiting to swallow up the sinners.
The oldest wood church in Maramures, dating from 1364 is in
Ieud, and is also named as "The Church on the hill".
Made out of fir wood, built on the castle ruins, the church
host extraordinary interior frescos, recently renovated. Ieud's
second church, Greek-Catholic was built in 1717. The church
is unique in this region as it has no porch. Located at the
southern end of the village it houses one of the largest collections
of icons on glass found in Maramures.
Nearby, there is an old traditional house, turned in a museum
by now , where you might buy handy crafts and different other
South on the valley is Dragomiresti village, first
documented in 1405; here was recently open a traditional art
museum dedicated to the country side women from Maramures.
Apart from seeing and buying hand crafts, you'll have the
opportunity to get dressed for photos in the unique Maramures
Before saying good bye to Maramures region, we'll have lunch
in a local farm house and soon after, we will turning right
south from Sacel along Salauta river valley.
We highly recommend that the program
should be open for changes considering that Maramures region
has many local traditions, specific events and festivals,
country fairs, religious celebrations, and many others.
Day 1: Cluj-Napoca Baia Mare Maramures region
Day 2: Maramures - Iza valley - Beclean - Cluj
- duration - 2 days;
- validity - thoughout the year;
- minimum persons required - 2;
- transport - over 700 km driving.
Note: This schedule is flexible according to the departure
time, weather and road conditons, and neverthless your own
suggestions! The first and last day of the tour can be also
a matter of change according to your wishes and travelling
- 191 euros / person for minimum 2 people;
- 127 euros / person for 3 people;
- 95 euros / person for 4 people;
- 120 euros / person for 5 people;
- 100 euros / person for 6 people;
- 86 euros / person for 7 people;
- 75 euros / person for 8 people;
- 77 - 49 euros / person for 9 - 14 people;
- 54 - 60 euros / person for 15 - 20 people;
- 67 - 39 euros / person for 21 - 31 people;
get over 20% off the total price by being accommodated at
- transfer and tour Cluj - Maramures region - Cluj, by car
- English, German, Italian or Hungarian speaking guide;
- snack and coffee, in the car;
- entrance tickets to all the turisty places included in the
- accommodation, all the meals during the tour;
- personal expenses.
For accommodation (a regular guest house in a country side),
all the meals and entrance tickets, you can consider 45 -