Maramures is one of Europe's best kept secrets, a place where time stands still, a place where rural customs, traditions, and skills (in particular wood sculpting) and, last but not least, human kindness are well preserved.

Close to the Ukrainian border, Maramures covers 3381 sq km of valleys, beatiful villages, hills and mountains (as tall as 2303 m). In this small area can be found 5 UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites (wooden churches), a natural reserve also protected by UNESCO, about 60 villages and small towns, the only narrow gauge industrial steam train still in use in Europe, and many other atractions. Places to visit:

1. Sighetu Marmatiei, with its museums and churches.

2. Vaser Valley, where a unique steam-powered train still runs.

3. The wooden churches protected by UNESCO (Poienile Izei, Ieud-Deal, Budesti-Josani, Desesti and Barsana-Jbar), erected between the 16th and 18th century, in the "Maramures gothic style". These churches have been painted hundreds of years ago.

4. The Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, unique in the world, famous for its colourful tombstones with naive paintings describing, in an original and poetic manner, the persons that are buried there as well as scenes from their lives; today a major tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

5. The tallest wooden church in the world (78 m high, erected in Sapanta, between 1995-2003).

6. The Pietrosu Rodnei Natural Reserve, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (listed in 1980, although it was estabilished in 1932), part of the Rodna Mountains National Park;  the reserve protects plants and animals such as edelweiss, gentians, marmots, chamois etc.

7. The Maramures Mountains Natural Park, the biggest and wildest natural park in Romania, covering 1480 sq km; the park protects 1260 plant species, bears, wolves, lynxes etc.

8. Breb Village, adopted by the HMS Prince of Wales (who bought here three old wooden houses).

9. Sarbi Village, which hosts a group of water-powered machines (watermills, thresher, alcohol distilleries, whirlpools).

10. Budesti Village, the best-preserved traditional Maramures settlement.

These atractions of Maramures, and also many others, can be reached with the help of Adela and Teo ( adelaalma@gmail.com or teofilivanciuc@yahoo.com), Romanian guides who speak English and French.  

 

                                                     Maramures village scene