Maramureş, a small and unique location in northern Romania, has carefully and distinctively preserved the culture, traditions and lifestyle of a mediaeval peasant past. Whilst Romania is on the verge of economically and socially joining the rest of Europe, Maramureş stands as a testament to the traditional, to a romantic era of simplicity, pride and moral values that many of us can only now read about or hear about from our grandparents.
Situated in the northwest of Romania, the region occupies an area of 6304 square kilometers, borders Ukraine and also the counties of Suceava, Bistrita Nasaud, Cluj, Salaj and Satu Mare.
Almost 50% of the region is considered mountainous. The Gutai, Ţibleş and Rodna Mountains, running northwest to east, separate Historical Maramures from the rest of the region while the Maramures Mountains form a natural and political boundary with Ukraine in the northeast.
The region is abundant with fast-flowing rivers. The names of the major rivers are used to distinguish the regions in Historical Maramures – the Iza, the Mara, the Viseu, the Tisa and the Cosău.
The first written documentation of Maramureş dates back to the year 1199, but archaeological evidence points to habitation of these lands since the Neolithic age. Whilst much of Dacia (the old name corresponding to lands south of the Carpathians and north of the Danube) was conquered by the Romans, Maramureş, in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, was largely independent.
In the middle ages, Dacian-Roman society was influenced by neighboring tribes. Feudal settlements were established between the 4th and 10th centuries and were largely institutionalized and sanctioned by the church. In the 13th century, Magyar (Hungarian) chiefs began their conquest of Transylvania and by the middle of the 14th century, the whole Transylvania region, including Maramures, was under Hungarian rule.
Maramures officially became part of the Transylvanian principality in 1526, then part of the Habsburg Empire in 1687 and was annexed by Hungary in 1703. Revolution in 1848 ended the Habsburg Dynasty and in 1918, Transylvania, including Maramures, united with the Kingdom of Romania.
Following the peace treaties of Paris, in 1920, Maramures loses to Czechoslovakia the territory from north of the Tisa river (a land that currently belongs to Ukraine).
In 1940, Maramures and Northern Transylvania was given by Nazi Germany to Hungary and subsequently returned in 1944 with the withdrawal of German and Hungarian troops. 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 Maramureş.
Maramureş County is comprised of the following ethnographic zones: the Land of Maramureş, the Land of Lăpuş, the Land of Chioar, the largest part of the Codru Land and the zone of Baia Mare-Baia Sprie. Five of the wooden UNESCO World Heritage churches presented in this guide are situated in the Land of Maramureş (Deseşti, Budeşti, Bârsana, Poienile Izei, Ieud), two in the Land of Chioar (Şurdeşti and Plopiş) and one in the Land of Lăpuş (Rogoz).
Maramures is considered by many to be the heart and soul of rural Romania. The narrow streets of tiny villages, surrounding hills, meadows of flowers and hay stacks painstakingly erected, the peasants dressed in festive clothing or working on the field, the cows returning from the pasture at sunset and the buckets of freshly milked dairy, they all contribute to the picturesque charm of life in the countryside. Those who wish to become familiar with the world of Maramures villages are invited to sleep in a rural bed and breakfast, taste traditional food and participate in the everyday life of locals, learning some of the secrets of old crafts.
Rural tourism is not the only opportunity Maramureş has to offer. Hikers and mountain trekkers can take in Maramureş’s breathtaking landscapes which are accessible through a large network of trails. Those fond of winter sports can enjoy the skiing for all ability levels in Cavnic, Mogoşa, Şuior, Izvoarele or Borşa.
Are you interested by the cultural heritage? You won’t be disappointed about it either. Maramures exudes history and old civilization, customs and testimonies of the past. The large museums in Baia Mare and Sighetu Marmaţiei are not the only cultural attractions in the area. Keep you eyes open for the many small treasures that can be found in tiny village museums and memorial houses. You might even stumble upon a fine collection of old books or icons painted on wood and glass that are tucked away in a remote village church.
Distinctive wooden architecture clearly distinguishes Maramureş from other regions in Romania. In particular, ornately carved wooden gates convey an undeniable local identity to this land. Maramureş is also home to many old wooden churches which have been visited and admired by people from all over the world. These special monuments, particularly the 8 UNESCO World Heritage churches, are the focus of this guide. We invite you to travel along the scenic byways of Maramures to discover these magnificent churches and their interesting and unique histories.
Around Baia Mare
18 km away from the center of Baia Mare, beyond the Firiza Lake, the “Lostrita” Complex (www.complexlostrita.ro) welcomes its guests with its own trout farm, accommodation facilities, a restaurant and extended terraces. And at about 30 km away from the city seat of the district, at the foot of the Ignis peak, the “Izvoare” tourist complex (www.statiuneaizvoare.ro) tempts guests with fresh smelling forests, ski slopes, accommodation facilities, a riding center and mountain paths leading to natural reserves.
Set at 10 km away from Baia Mare, the town of Baia Sprie (Hungarian name: Felsobanya) is a former mining town, with buildings of interest for tourists, mostly from the XVIII and XIX centuries. One of the attractions of Baia Sprie is the pottery workshop of the artist Daniel Les, whom you may watch crafting clay objects, and in whose guesthouse you may rest over the night (www.casaolarului.ro). Starting in the town center, a paved narrow road leads up to the Blue Lake. After approximately 1 km, the road is continued through a forest. The Blue Lake, a natural reserve formed after the collapse of an old mining gallery, owes its intense color (blue-emerald green) to the dissolution of sulphates.
Also under the jurisdiction of the town of Baia Sprie, there is the Chiuzbaia village, starting point for several tracks leading up to the Ignis Peak (1307 m). Chiuzbaia is also home to a famous fossil reserve, having one of the most developed Pliocene flora. Tourists who visit the area of Chiuzbaia will get to see whirlpools that locals use for washing their blankets and carpets.
Back to the center of Baia Sprie and climbing up to the Gutai Gorge (Pasul Gutâi), the road will soon encounter a bifurcation (after 5 km). The road to the left will lead to Historical Maramureş, while the right one will lead to Mogosa and Suior, two well-known touristic locations in this area. Mogoşa (www.mogosa.ro) displays as main point of attraction the Bodi Lake, which tempts you into swimming on hot summer days. Accommodation and food is available at the lodge set on the lake shore. Another attraction is the possibility of making a trip up the Mogosa Peak (1246m). Close to it, the Suior Complex (www.suior.ro) attracts tourists mainly due to its ski slopes, equipped with lighting system and artificial snow cannons. Accommodation is available in one of the three small hotels of the complex or in the wooden cabins at the 1000 m level. Suior is also one of the starting points towards Rooster’s Peak, a geological reserve consisting of a steep cliff of peculiar shape, probably the most popular destination for those interested in making a trip near Baia Mare.
Maramures County Council
Tourist Information Centre MaramuresInfoturism
Baia Mare, Gh. Sincai, No. 46, Room 20
Tel: +40 262 206 113 Fax: +40 262 206 114
email: email@example.com www.visitmaramures.ro
Text made with the support of:
Baia Mare, Traian Bd, No. 9/16
Tel: +40 262 224 870
Maramureş County Direction for Culture, Cults and National Cultural Heritage
Victoriei Str., No. 28, Tel: +40 262 212 042