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Maramures is considered by many to be the heart and soul of rural Romania. With its
picturesque countryside of small villages, rolling hills, pastures and meadows full of
wildflowers, Maramures epitomizes all that the rural lifestyle encompasses. Visitors
to Maramures have a unique opportunity to step back in time and bear witness to simpler
times and simpler lives.
Maramures is a small and unique location in the geographical heartland of Europe
that has carefully and distinctively preserved the culture, traditions and lifestyle of a
mediaeval peasant past. The region stands as a testament to traditional; to a romantic era of
simplicity, pride and moral values that many of us can only now read about or hear from our
Little has changed in the centuries gone by. Families remain in the same villages as
their ancestors. Traditional skills and crafts are passed down from generation to generation.
Traditional hand-woven clothing continues to be practical. The church continues to be the
soul of the village. Neighbours know one another and continue to lend a helping hand.
Life in Maramures is like a mystery. Visitors to Maramures drive through mountain
passes and descend into the valleys of life where the mystery of rural traditions unfolds before
the visitor as a living museum that is at once within reach yet simultaneously beyond the
grasp of the whimsical traveller.
Maramures is a blend of a variety of topographical features that creates a unique
landscape. High mountains, green rolling hills, wide and narrow river valleys, forests,
pastures, rivers and lakes all form the most aesthetically stunning region of Romania. Situated
in the north of Romania, the region occupies an area of 6304 sq kms, borders Ukraine and also
the counties of Suceava, Bistriţa Nasaud, Cluj, Salaj and Satu Mare.
Almost 50% of the region is considered mountainous and the region hosts the highest
peak of the Eastern Carpathian range; Pietrosu (2303m). Four distinct mountain ranges carve
up the region separating Moldavia (not to be confused with Moldova, the country) and
Transylvania. The Gutai, Tiblesh and Rodna Mountains, running northwest to east, separate
Historical Maramures from the rest of the region and the Maramures Mountains form a
natural and political boundary with Ukraine in the northeast.
The region is abundant with clean, fast-flowing rivers constantly refreshed by the
surrounding mountains. With some 3000km of waterways it’s no wonder that the landscape is
so lush and green. The names of the major rivers are also used to distinguish the
ethnographic zones in historical Maramures– the Iza, the Mara, the Viseu and the Tisa. Aside
from the rivers there are the alpine lakes of Iezer and Buhaescu of glacial origin and the man-
made lakes at Ocna Sugatag and Baia Sprie and the Stramtori-Firiza and Runcu-Brazi-Firiza
Maramures is typically wetter and colder than the rest of Romania although the
weather can be spectacular and hot in the summer months. In the winter a Christmas card
landscape appears with mild snowfall and the chance to go skiing. When the snow disappears
the landscape quickly becomes, and remains, green until autumn. Temperatures are relatively
mild but can reach up into the 30s centigrade during the summer.
The first written documentation of Maramures dates back to the year 1199, but
archaeological evidence points to habitation of these lands since the Neolithic age.
After Dacia (the old name corresponding to lands south of the Carpathians and north of the
Danube) had been conquered by the Romans, Maramures remained outside the Roman
province, as an independent territory.
In the Middle Ages, the Dacian-Roman society was influenced by the migratory
tribes. Feudal settlements were estabilished between the 4
centuries and were
largely institutionalized and sanctioned by the church. In the 13
century, Magyar chiefs
began their conquest of Transylvania and by the end of the 14
century, the whole
Transylvania region, including Maramures, was under Hungarian rule.
The written evidences on Maramures become more frecquent in the 14
1359, after rebelling with the Magyar rulers who had put him in place, the Maramureş
Voievode Bogdan, with a large number of locals, crossed over the Carpathians into Moldavia,
fought Balc, the grandson of the legendary voievode Dragoş and reshaped Moldavia into an
Maramureş became part of the Transylvanian principality in 1526, then part of the
Habsburg Empire in 1687, and was annexed to Hungary in 1703. The Habsburg Dynasty
ended in 1848 with a revolution. In 1918, Transylvania, including Maramureş, united with the
Kingdom of Romania.
In 1940, Maramures and Northern Transylvania was given by Nazi Germany to
Hungary and subsequently returned in 1945 with the withdrawal of German and hungarian
In the early 1960s, most individual peasants were forced to give their lands to collective
farms instituted under the communist regime. Despite this forced collectivization, genuine art
and folk traditions continued to flourish in Maramures.
Wood Sculpture All these can be observed in the Cosău Valley, Iza Valley and Marea
Valley areas, in the Berbesti, Feresti, Calinesti, Sarbi and Budeti villages, as well as
the open air village museums in Sighet and Baia Mare. The Maramures old wooden
churches, built in the 17
centuries, sometimes on older churches sites are
proofs of a great originality and creativity. Over the course of history, many of them
have been burned by invaders and had to be replaced or rebuilt. Wood is the green
heart of the Maramures county, a shelter for the body, a friend of the heart,
companion while working on the fields, the warmth of winter nights, in one word, the
soul of Maramures.
Textiles Every respectable household keeps a guestroom sheltering the daughter’s
dowry with all the clothes and linen she may need for her new beginning. The linen
bears intricate patterns and displays various colours, depending on the purpose it
serves and their importance. Carpets are designed in intricate geometrical patterns and
contrasting colours and their border displays anthropomorphous or human
representations such as ‘ soldiers dancing’ and ‘horse and horseman’. Towels are
vividly coloured in tones of red against black with large patterns similar to those in the
carpets. Bed throws come in two, up to four different colours and authentic textiles are
painted in natural tones obtained form plants and tree bark.
Ceramics Since immemorial times, earth, water and fire came alive in the hands of the
craftsmen from Maramures. The ceramics from Sacel is made of very good quality
clay, extracted from wells 15-17m deep. By the shape of the pots, the decorative
elements and work techniques, such as the red burning and the stone polishing, this
ceramics closely resemble the Dacian one. The pots are made at the wheel, decorated,
polished with a stone, laid out to dry, then stored in boxes until a considerable number
of them are made. Finally they are burnt in the kiln without being enameled. Today,
pottery is still practiced in Sacel using the same ancient techniques. Other types of
ceramics in Maramures are the enameled ones from Vama and Lăpuș, the ceramics
ceramics of neo-Byzantine influence from Iza Valley and the ceramics decorated with
paint brush, from Baia Mare and Baia Sprie.
Hats In the villages of Sârbi and Budesti, on Cosau Valley, there are still two
traditional hats makers: Vasile Borodi and Manuela Borodi (Ioan Bârlea's daughter)
manufacture, out of straw and wood shavings, hats that make the folk costumes
complete. The hats are differently decorated, according to the occasion or event: with
colorful beads and flowers at weddings, simple and sobre at funerals. One thing is for
sure: all Maramures houses have a nail on the entrace wall, where the man hangs his
hat in the evenings, before dinner, after having finished his work.
Traditional Costumes Maramures traditional costumes are impressive through
beauty and simplicity. Each ethnographic region has a local specific when it comes to
costume. For instance, the costume of the Land of Lapus is much more elegant and
sobre than the one from the Historical Maramures. In the land of Maramures, the
defining elements of the women's clothing are: a kierchief, white shirt with sleeves
ended in cuffs and flounces, ample skirts, covered by the two aprons with horizontal
stripes colored according to the social status and region (usually black alternating with
red, yellow or orange). Over the shirt, women wear a jerkin, or a warmer coat durin
wintertime, called. Men wear short white shirts, wide trousers (izmene) in summer and
"cioareci" (trousers made of wool) in winter and hats on their heads. The jerkin gives
vividness to the costumes. The traditional shoes are called "opinci" and are still part of
the folk costumes. In the past, when coming to the fair every Monday, people could
recognize each others' origin by the costumes they wore. An identification element for
the women was the way the stripes on their skirts were disposed or the chromatics, and
for the men, the color of their coat revealed their origins.
Traditional Jewelry Traditional Jewelry gives color to women's costumes. Young girls
proudly wear "zgardane" around their necks. These necklesses are made of small,
multicoloured beads threaded onto strings, using different motives, such as rhombus,
\lowers, S motif.
Customs & Traditions
Maramures abounds with both man-made and natural cultural attractions. From the
wooden churches and museums to the village markets and daily life of the shepherd, one can
not but feel immersed in and part of a time that has essentially stood still.
Maramures bases its entire existence on two frames of reference: the land and the
Christian Holidays. Time is not measured here in months, days or hours, but in terms of the
seasons (sowing, mowing, and harvest season) and the events of Lent, Easter, the celebration
of Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and preparations for Christmas. When they complete their
work, Maramures villagers celebrate their holidays and traditions with great enthusiasm.
They bow their heads in prayer, enjoy their dances and music, and celebrate the places where
they were born. In order to feel the rhythm of this part of the country, you need to discover it
during the holidays, when land, customs and people come together in a dance
The best way to learn about the culture of Maramures is to join the local people in
walking the village streets and navigating the trails to the pastures and cultivated plots located
up on the hills and down in the valleys surrounding the villages.
As a visitor in Maramures, you will definitely not leave your host's house with
empty stomack. Travellers will be welcome to a fulfilling meal upon arrival, where traditional
dishes are the main attraction.
In the Maramures homes, polenta can be seen in lots of different aspects. In the past,
polenta often used to replace the bread. The shepherds' specialty is a dish of ewe-cheese, milk
and polenta, called "balmos", but you don't have to go up to the sheepfold to taste it (although
if you do, the landscape will definitely pay off your efforts). One of the householders would
give her best to cook it for you.
There are different customs as far as dishes are concerned. For instance, on Palm
Saturday, women from Maramures bake small loafs of bread for each member of the family.
This bread is called "Wheat flower" and tradition claims that those eating it that day will see
each other in Heaven. On Christmas night and on New Year's Eve, all the members of the
family must eat a slice of pork jelly ("piftie") from a big plate where there also is the snout of
the pig, which is said to bring luck.
All this food could not be swallowed properly if it weren't sprinkled with the
omnipresent beverage of Maramures, the plum brandy called "Palinca" or "Horinca". The
men fromMaramures proudly claim that you won't find anywhere else in the whole country
better "horinca" than the one that is made in their villages. There are different "proofs" that
can testify the quality of this liquor. If you rub in your hands a drop of "horinca", it must get a
certain smell, similar to the smell of honey. Then when you pour it in glasses, it makes a
"collar" of small pearls, which should stay there till you say the Lord's Prayer. The more the
small pearls are the better the horinca is.
It is tradition for men to offer Palinca to visitors. Custom suggests that the glass be
emptied before one leaves the table otherwise it can be bad luck for the household, especially
if the family has daughters. If the guests fail to finish the glass of palinca, then the daughters
will not marry.
Things to do
Events & Festivals
25th of March - Annunciation Day: On Annunciation Day, in Maramures villages the
householders clean their gardens and light outdoor fires, meant to protect them from trouble
13th of April - Palm Sunday: Christians bring green willow branches in the church yards to
have them blessed by priests; the branches will be then taken home and kept in a on the girder,
where everyone can see them all year long.
20th22th of April - Easter Customs: After a long fasting period, the people of Maramureş
celebrate Easter with piety: painting eggs, going to the Resurrection Service, having their food
blessed by the priests are some of the customs never left apart.
21th of April - ″Udătoriu″ from Şurdeşti: On the second day of Easter, the hardest working
villager (named the "Udătoriu") is celebrated in Surdesti. This is an old spring agrarian
custom, full of captivating rituals.
22nd of April - Dance on Cosău – Sârbi: A village that has preserved its wooden church,
houses, gates, as long as its traditional installations and artisans, also preserved its custom of
dancing on holidays.
23th of April - Saint George's Day: In some villages, people decorate their houses with
birch leaves, meant to announce the coming of spring and they wash their faces with morning
dew. The main custom on Saint George's Day is wetting. Boys throw buquets of waters on
girls, as a ritual of fertility.
23th of April - Dance at the Shed - Baia Mare, Village Museum The old church from the
Village Museum of Baia Mare is celebrated on St. George's Day. The church service, the
dance and customs will bring the museum to life.
26th-27th of April - Many Flowers Up the Iza River – Dragomiresti The first Sunday after
Easter is the Sunday of Saint Thomas and also the day when the church of Dragomireşti is
being celebrated. A good occasion for locals to wear their best costumes.
8th of June - Whit Sunday On the day when the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's
disciples is celebrated, the villagers of Maramureş decorate their houses with the green
branches of lime and maple trees. This holiday is another good opportunity for people to sing
and dance (Festival in Budesti, Festival in Valeni).
Rural & Ecotourism
Rural and eco-tourism opportunities abound throughout Maramures. Perhaps one of
the most interesting pieces of Maramuresculture lies in the exquisite handicrafts produced
by the numerous traditional artisans active in the region. These talented artisans create living
history with their pottery, textiles, glass and wooden religious icons, traditional costumes,
hats, and other noteworthy items. Throughout the county you can visit artisans in their
workshops and purchase a unique souvenir direct from the creator.
Walking and Trekking: Opportunities for walking or trekking through stunning rural
landscapes abound throughout Maramures County. Whether you are looking for a light stroll
through a scenic village and it surrounding countryside or a challenging trek through rugged
hills and mountains, Maramures offers every visitor the chance to commune with the natural
environment on foot. Routes and trails exist throughout every region of the county guiding
trekkers through rolling hills, fields, and pastures, along babbling streams and swift rivers, and
up above the tree line of three different mountain ranges. You are also invited to explore on
foot the picturesque villages dotting the countryside to fully appreciate the simplicity and
calm of rural life. There are many trekking routes available to suit all tastes and experience
levels for visitors interested in venturing by foot into the beautiful landscapes of Maramures.
Skiing: Outdoor pursuits are not only limited to the summer months in Maramures. Winter
sports, and alpine skiing in particular, are a favourite pastime in the area. Many individual ski
slopes can be found throughout the mountainous areas of the county catering to various ability
Cycling: One of the best ways to explore Maramures is with a bicycle. The rolling hills and
lack of congestion on country roads combine to produce ideal conditions for an unforgettable
cycling adventure. Enjoy the scenery as you peddle your way from village to village
shadowing the gentle rippling of nearby streams. Those seeking a more challenging cycling
experience can find superb conditions for mountain biking almost anywhere in the county
though opportunities are better in the mountainous regions.
Places to go
1. Maramures Towns
Baia Mare is all consuming, a city of contrasts and a city that can teach a visitor a lot about
life in modern and pre-modern Romania. Meaning big mine, Baia Mare is a Romanian
regional center of population and commerce. It is an urban area with a bridge to the rural life
of Maramures. Baia Mare is also a cultural center, with a lot for visitors to see and do. If
visiting on business, one can spend a few hours during the day, learning about the heritage
of Maramures, by visiting a number of well appointed cultural museums and heritage sites.
By night, there are a number of fine restaurants spotting an European flavor as well as some
hopping night spots featuring everything from jazz to rock and roll. Museums and cultural
sites are unpretentious, without the glamour of 21st century museum design. The main
displays are uninterrupted by glitz, so that the viewer is face to face with the main artifacts of
Sighetu Marmaţiei is situated to the exact centre of Europe. The city feels alive with a blend
of both contemporary and traditional elements, evoking a stylish sense of place a mélange of
architectural styles that blend the centuries together. Sighet is located at the confluence of
three rivers: Tisa, Iza, and Mara. It is a city spread out on an open plain bounded by forested
mountains with only a few accessible passes through which the people of Maramureş travel to
reach this gateway city. Sighet is a place that has played host to visitors for centuries. Sighet
is one of those places that has stood the test of time in Romania. The city has endured the pain
of Hitler's German troops forcefully deporting Jews in 1944. It is the birth place of Ellie
Wiesel, the Noble laureate for peace, who was deported along with his family and others to
Auschwitz and survived to write about coining the term of " holocaust". Up until 1948,
Sighet was the city of reference and the capital of Maramureş. In 1948, following the Russian
model of administration, the capital of the region was moved to Baia Mare.
The capital of Lapuş Country is the town of Târgu Lapuş. Several thousand people live in
and around this town that acts as the main commercial center for the vast Lapuş valley. Here
villagers come to do business, purchase goods, and use the modern day services. Visitors will
find benches to watch the world go by in a small plaza located in the center of town. It pays to
sit for awhile in Lapuş Country. In Lapuş, a large number of people are employed by small- to
medium-sized manufacturing operations. One place open to visitors is the Filbac furniture
factory located on the road from Târgu Lapuş to Lapuş. Logs from the mountain forests are
transported to mills in Lapuş and from the mills, lumber is brought to the furniture factory
where it is dried and then transformed into furniture for far off markets. Opposite the furniture
factory is a yarn factory where spools of multicolored yarns of various strengths and types are
filled by modern machinery. The wooden furniture factory and yarn factory are struggling to
stay afloat in the ever more competitive global economy. But with the talent and ingenuity of
people from Lapuş Country, strategies have been developed that will insure prosperity into the
2. Regions of Maramures
The Land of Chioar is interesting but less researched in comparison to the historic province
of Maramures. Appealing folk literature, music and dance are still alive in the villages of the
Chioar Country. They are related to local traditions such as wedding, funerals, husking bees.
The variety of the relief-rainging from riverside meadows to highlands- has a bearing on the
structure of human settlements, that run from scattered homesteads to clustered homesteads.
The Land of Codru covers the part of Maramureş between the Codru Ridge and the Someş
valley. This area of ancient traditions still preserves original folk art, customs and crafts that
make it appealing to the tourists. The traditional houses are much alike those of Chioar and
have a ground plan that consists of three rooms. The largest and the most richly ornamented
building of the homestead is the barn which has influenced the ground plan of the barns of
Chioar and Lapus.The most representative piece of furniture is the so-called ladoi,a large
chest used to keep clothes and sheets.
The story of Lapuş is one of wood and forestry products. The story, however, begins several
thousand years ago when Free Dacians of the Bronze Era formed small groups living in this
region. The people of this ancient time left hundreds and hundreds of clay vessels as well as
ornaments made from bone and gold in high mounds covered with soil. Today many of the
mounds remain, but those that have been excavated revealed an enormous cache that is now
on display in the Baia Mare Archeological Museum.
Land of Maramures, also known as Historical Maramureş, is divided into valleys: the Mara
Valley, the Iza Valley, the Cosau Valley, the Vişeu Valley and the Tisa Valley.
3. Wooden Churches
4. Săpânța Merry Cemetery
The village of Săpânța, located just 4 kilometres south of the Ukrainian border is world-
famous for its original "Merry Cemetery": a special kind of graveyard, with wooden crosses
painted in vivid colors. A particular blue, called „Sapanta blue" rules over all the other colors.
Stan Ioan Patras, the author of this cemetery, carved the first cross in 1935. He died in 1977
and his creation was continued to this day and carried on by Patras's apprentice, Dumitu Pop.
Each cross is different: the carved images naively catch one of the deceased lifetime's
characteristic attitudes, while the epitaphs are short poems, deprived of the usual cliches and
full of substance, written in the first person like a confession of the deceased himself.
6. Mocanita, the Steam Train on Vaser Valley
CFF Vişeu de Sus is located in the East side of Maramureş county. Also known as
"Mocăniţa” or Vaser Valley railway, the steam train track leads along the River Vaser and is
the only mean of transport to the heart of Maramureş Mountains (protected area).
Built in 1932, the Vaser Valley railway is still working, primarily aimed as logging wood
from the forest for the wood processing factories from Vişeu de Sus. CFF Vişeu de Sus is
today the last remaining functional forestry train in Europe still used for wood
transportation. Since the year 2000, there are regular steam trains also used for tourist
purpose. The tourist season starts in spring and ends in late autumn. Departure time is 9:00 am
and the train arrives back to Viseu de Sus at around 3:00 pm. The train goes up to the Paltin
station (21.6 km), about two hours away from the town of Vişeu de Sus, where a nice halting
place has been arranged.
At Paltin, tourists are invited to discover the wild, unaltered nature of the valley, to
make a picnic and admire the view from the rock platform located nearby. For the picnic,
there is a catering service with a variety of food supply.
For those who are looking for a special out of season adventure, CFF Viseu de Sus can
arrange a charter train, that also provides (at request) special catering service.
Starting with 2011, CFF Viseu de Sus offers you accommodation right near the
station, in the Carpatia-Expresstrain hotel, with a capacity of 40 beds and a restaurant for 40
Elie Wiesel Memorial House, Sighetu-Marmatiei
Baia Mare Ethnography and Folk Art Museum
Baia Mare Art Museum
History and Archaeology Museum
Sighet Ethnographic Museum
Sighet Memorial Museum(Prison Museum)
Sighet Village Museum
8. Protected Areas
Maramures boasts 38 natural protected areas. The 3300 hectares Pitrosul Rodnei
Wildlife Reserve was pronounced UNESCO's " Reserve of the Biosphere". Endemic wild
plants, chamios and marmots are the chief protected species, thriving here in the middle of the
beautiful alpine landscape spotted with glacial lakes. The Sweet Chestnut Tree Reserve covers
500 hectares on the hills neighbouring Baia Mare city.
Creasta Cocosului Geological Reserve is centered around the narrow jagged
andesite ridge, a vestige of a former volcanic crater, who's name is translated " the Rooster's
Peak." Chiuzbaia Fossil Reserve: Here we can find remains of Pliocene vegetation impeinted
in diatomaceous limestone.
Maramures Mountains Natural Park, Lapus Gorge, Tatar's Gorges on the Izvoare
plateau, Morareni Lake near the village of Breb are just a few of the other protected areas, a
delight for the eye.
When to Come
The people of Maramures greet visitors at any time of the year with open arms, warmth and
hospitality. Certain times of the year, however, are better than others depending on the types
of activities you wish to engage in. Generally speaking, the best time of year to visit is from
late spring to early autumn (May to September), as it affords visitors the warmer and sunnier
weather. During spring and early summer, hillsides and fields come alive with blossoming of
wildflowers in a rainbow of colors. For those interested in trekking, July to September are
generally considered to be the optimal months. Ski season, typically lasts from mid to late
December, until the end of March, though it is certainly possible to begin earlier and/or end
Any tour of Maramures should start with its capital, Baia Mare, the point of easiest access to
Baia Mare's fastest connection with Bucharest is by plane. The airport is located 8 km outside
the city. Tarom's (national airline company) flights on Baia Mare airporthas the following
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: departure from Bucharest/Otopeni at
21:20; landing on Baia Mare airport at 22:45
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday departure from Baia Mare at 05:55;
landing at Bucharest/Otopeni at 07:15
Tourists arriving from Bucharest or Budapest should know that they may also fly to Satu
Mare (located 70 km far from Baia Mare) or Cluj-Napoca (150 km distance from Baia Mare).
Various different bus companies offer service between other cities and Baia Mare. A
comprehensive listing of bus service, including timetables, for all of Romania can be found
atwww.autogari.ro (in Romanian only).
All trains service is managed by CFR Romania and a full timetable can be found on their
website at www.cfr.ro (available in English, Romanian and French)
or www.mersultrenurilor.ro. To Baia Mare we have the following main train connections:
Bucharest North-departure 21:20 - Baia Mare-arrival 9:28
Timisoara North-departure 15:50 - Baia Mare-arrival 22:43
Cluj Napoca 4:19-departure - Baia Mare-arrival 8:45
Cluj Napoca 14:05-departure - Baia Mare-arrival 17:41
Cluj Napoca 15:32-departure - Baia Mare-arrival 19:37
Cluj Napoca 18:25-departure - Baia Mare-arrival 22:18
1. http://www.visitmaramures.ro/ Doar pe acesta l-am folosit dar ce ne lipseste gasim
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