Tourism Operation Licence no. 3854 / 2010
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Two days into the land of old traditions - Maramures region

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 ages.

Barsana monastery

The 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 Merry’s 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.

The Memorial of the Victims of Communism

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 death camps.
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.

local loom

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 areas.
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 folk stuff.
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 costumes.
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.

Tour program:
Day 1: Cluj-Napoca – Baia Mare – Maramures region
Day 2: Maramures - Iza valley - Beclean - Cluj

Tour information:

- 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 program.

- 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;

Note: get over 20% off the total price by being accommodated at Retro Hostel!

Prices includes:
- transfer and tour Cluj - Maramures region - Cluj, by car or minibus;
- English, German, Italian or Hungarian speaking guide;
- snack and coffee, in the car;

Prices excludes:
- entrance tickets to all the turisty places included in the tour;
- 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 - 60 euros/person.

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Country life in Maramures
Dracula tour !!!

  Outgoing - Excursii elevi
Circuite elevi in Cluj
Circuite elevi in tara
Hiking the Retezat Mountains
Hiking the Southern Carpathians

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