Any tour of Maramureş should start with its capital, Baia Mare, the point of easiest access to the county.
A mixture between medieval history and modernism, Baia Mare is a medium-sized city with many sights and points of interest for visitors to explore. One major unique feature of the city is the sweet chestnut tree reserve. This natural treasure is celebrated annually at the end of September during the three days of Chestnut Festival.
Access to Baia Mare
The city is located in a depression in the western part of Maramures, approximately 80 km from the border with Hungary. Baia Mare’s fastest connection with Bucharest is by plane and the airport is located 8 km outside of the city. Tourists arriving in Bucharest or Budapest may also fly to Satu Mare (70 km) or Cluj Napoca, (150 km) and then travel via train (www.mersultrenurilor.ro), bus (www.autogari.ro) or car to Baia Mare.
Baia Mare has historically served as an important mining colony and archaeological research points to the fact that the gold and silver in this area had been intensely exploited even prior to the Roman conquest of Dacia. The first written attestation of the town of Baia Mare dates back to 1327 and 1329, when it was mentioned under the name of Rivulus Dominarum (River of the Ladies) in some documents issued by the office of King Charles I of Anjou. Over the following centuries, due to the fact that royal policies came to support mining activities, Baia Mare enjoyed several rights and privileges, becoming one of the richest medieval towns in the area. Names have changed over time: from Rivulus Dominarum, to Nagybanya, Frauenbach, Neustadt. After 1541, Baia Mare is transferred under the administration of Transylvania’s princes, and beginning with 1691, the town is incorporated into the „Partium”, a territory of the Hungarian Kingdom, until December-1st-1918 when Transylvania, including Maramures, is unified to Romania.
Between the two World Wars, Baia Mare goes through a period of extended political, economic and cultural growth. After the years spent under Horthyst occupation during the Second World War, on October-17th-1944 Baia Mare is declared a free town. In 1968, Baia Mare becomes seat city of Maramures district, a status it still retains.
Places to visit
Recently restored, the Old City Center is a nice testimony of the medieval history of Baia Mare and is the pride of the city’s residents. Most of the architectural monuments and museums are located in this area.
The town’s emblematic building, the Stephen’s Tower, has seen more than six centuries of very troubled history. Between 1347 and 1387 St. Stephen’s Cathedral was erected and later on (1446-1468), a Gothic bell tower (Stephen’s Tower) was added. In 1769 the church was struck by lightning and burned down. After several attempts to rebuild the church, each followed by another fire, the remaining walls were torn down in 1847 for use as construction stone. Of the whole church, today only the tower remains. From the top of the tower, there is a panoramic view over the city.
Also located in the Old City Center (Libertăţii Square), the lancu de Hunedoara House was initially part of the former medieval castle built by Transylvania’s ruler lancu de Hunedoara for his wife. The building was finished around 1468 by their son, King Matei Corvin.
Other architectural monuments of interest are: the Holy Trinity Church (1720), the Butchers’ Tower (15th century) the Old Inn (18th century) and many other buildings from the 17 th and 18th centuries. Among the modern buildings, one of the most appreciated is the Prefecture Building, (Gh Sincai Str.), inaugurated in 1969. Also close to the town’s historical center, there is the City Theater of Baia Mare (www.teatrulbm.ro), which, beginning with 2006, has been the annual host, during the month of June, of the “Atelier” International Theater Festival.
The edifice on Monetariei Str., No. 1-3 houses the Archeology and History Museum containing various collections including: archaeology, mining techniques, numismatics (coins, medals), stamps, seals, weapons, clocks, etc. The museum has been equipped with an audio guide service in Romanian and English. (www.maramuresmuzeu.ro)
The Mineralogy Museum (Traian Blvd, No. 8) contains an extensive and interesting inventory of rare minerals and gems from the mining areas of Maramureş County, some of which (species of andorite, fizelyite, rhodocrosite, pyrrhotite, etc) are unique in the whole world. (www.muzeuminbm.ro)
The Ethnography and Folk Art Museum, located at the foot of Dealul Florilor, reflects the traditional occupations, crafts, folk clothing and religious objects specific to the old Maramures, while the nearby Village Museum covers the traditional architecture and technical installations from the four ethnographic regions of the county. (www.etnografiemaramures.ro)
The Art Museum (1 Mai Str, No. 8) contains a lovely collection of paintings, sculpture and graphics belonging to the famous Baia Mare painting school, founded in 1896 by the painter Hollosy Simon.
The Planetarium of Baia Mare (G. Cosbuc Str., No. 16), inaugurated in 1969, gives daily presentations of the stars and other astronomical highlights.
Afoot through Baia Mare
Set inside a depression protected almost all the way around by mountains, the city of Baia Mare provides a generous choice of tracks for those who are passionate about hiking. A simple walk in the city park may at any moment transform into a more ambitious outing, as the paved alleys merge into a hilly area, covered by forests, hosting Piatra Virgină (the Virgin Cliff). Also, a visit to the Village Museum may be continued with a trip up to the Piatra Şoimilor peak, returning along the Firiza reservoire, which provides an extraordinary view. The Borcutului Valley, Roşie Valley, Usturoi Valley also provide tempting tracks, both for walking and for cycling, and these are only a few of the available offers, located within the city or right next to it. By slightly extending the area you will be surprised by the diversity of landscapes surrounding the capital city of Maramures county.
Accomodation & Restaurants
- Best Western EuroHotel
Bucureşti Boulevard, No. 23, Tel: +40 262 222 405
- Carpati Hotel
Minerva Str, No. 16, Tel: +40 262 214 812
- Mara Hotel
Unirii Boulevard, No. 11, Tel: +40 262 226 660
- Rivulus Hotel
Str. Culturii, Nr. 3, Tel: +40 262 216 302
- Ambassador Hotel
Moldovei Str., No. 2, Tel: +40 262 250 242
- EuroHouse Hotel
Independenţei Str., No. 34, Tel: +40 362 802 055
- Floare de Colţi Guesthouse
Vasile Lucaciu Str., No. 48, Tel: +40 262 250 216
- Ideal Guesthouse
Şteampului Str, No. 6, Tel: +40 262 411 411
- Millenium Crama Restaurant
Crisan Street, No. 1, Tel: +40 362 415 045
- Rustic Restaurant
Transilvaniei Street, No. 15, Tel: +40 262 276 367
- “Curtea Veche” Restaurant
Libertatii Square, No. 16
- Bastion Restaurant
Baia Mare, Valea Roşie Str., No. 22, Tel: +40 754 625 760
Petofi Sandor Str., No. 7, Tel: +40 362 806 781