Maramures Travel Guide
> Villages lost in time.
> Several centuries-old world-famous wooden monasteries.
> The hospitality of the people.
> Beautiful local traditions, especially for Christmas.
> The city of Baia Mare.
Map of Maramures, Romania
The most nordic area of Transylvania is called Maramures. The largest city in the area is Baia Mare.
About Maramures, Romania
It is locally recognized as the most traditional area in Romania. The region is known for its beautiful rural scenery, local small woodwork and crafts industry as well as for its churches and original rural architecture. Its folklore comes from the Middle Ages, its traditional lifestyle and the local colourful traditional clothes still in use make Maramures as near to a living museum as can be found in Europe.
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Maramures is a geographical, historical and ethno-cultural region in northern Transylvania. Similarly with the other northern Romanian area of Bukovina, in northern Moldavia, Maramures is today split between Romania and Ukraine. Alternatively, the name Maramures is used for the Maramures County of Romania, which includes the Romanian section of the former historical region, as well as other small similar traditional areas like Tara Chioarului, Tara Lapusului and Tara Codrului.
Maramures is a valley totally enclosed by mountains, Oas, Gutii, Tibles and Rodnei to the west and south, Maramures Mountains and Carpatii Padurosi to the east and north, with a thin opening at Khust, with several dozen small mountain rivers and creeks flowing into the river Tisza (Tisa). It is forested and not easily accessible. Maramures represents one of the largest depressions in the Carpathians, covering an area of about 10000 km≤. The mountains surrounding this region occupy more than a half of area, and reach 2000 m by several peaks like Pietrosul 2303m in Rodnei Mountains. Protected areas have been created here, Rodnei Mountains National Park in 1930 and Maramures Mountains Natural Park in 2004. Lots of large mammals, like bears, lynxes, wild boars or wolves still live in the forrests of Maramures. That is why, starting with the year 1299, Maramures was declared a Royal hunting domain.
Maramures was under loose Hungarian control from the 11th century and will be part of the Habsburg Empire since 1688. However, it remained an autonomous region, gradually losing its privileges, until it was fully included in the Hungarian Kingdom in the 14th century. It was allowed to preserve its political organization, the Voevodate, consisting of many small autonomous parts. Romanian history claims that people from Maramures crossed the mountains and they politically established Moldavia as a province. It is said that two leaders from the region - Dragos Voda and Bogdan Boda - were the ones who created the first independent Moldavian state.
THE WOODEN CHURCHES
The famous wooden churches of the region were built during the 17th and 18th centuries, on the place of older churches. They are a response to a prohibition against the erection of stone Romanian Orthodox churches. The churches are made of thick logs, are quite small and dark inside, and painted with rather "naive" Biblical scenes. The most characteristic features are the tall tower above the entrance and the massive roof that seems to dwarf the main body of the church. Some of them have been listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999, for their religious architecture and timber construction traditions. The historical Maramures is one of the places where traditional log building was not interrupted and where a rich heritage in wood survives. The tradition of building wooden churches in central and southern Maramures can be traced from the beginning of the 16th century.
A RICH, LIVING RURAL CULTURE
One of the reasons the local culture from Maramures is so rich is that this region was always isolated between large mountains; during the winter, snow and wild beasts prevented the locals from getting out of their area. Apart from that, the locals couldn't count on agriculture to support them, like it happened in other regions: a great local tradition in wood-working was born and still lives today. Raising livestock was also an important way of improving their life, as the animals were being traded for cereals from the southern regions. What is truly surprising is that the old traditions are still very much alive in Maramures. Their songs, the dances, dresses, dishes, pottery, or the wooden houses tradition haven't changed much, considering that much of today's young generation emigrates to various Western European countries and are exposed to a radically different culture.
Baia-Mare, Sighet and the villages with wooden churches: Budeşti Josani, Deseşti, Barsana, Poienile Izei, Ieud Deal, Surdesti, Plopis, Rogoz, Sarbi Susani, Sat Sugatag.