ITALIANO / ENGLISH
- Day 1 – Suceava (or other starting point) – Tihuta Pass (Borgo Pass/Dracula) – Bistrita – Dragomiresti – Bogdan Voda – Ieud – Poienile Izei – Botiza (over night)
- Day 2 – Rozavlea – Barsana – Sighetul Marmatiei – Sapanta – Sighetul Marmatiei (you can end your trip in Sighetul Marmatiei or in Suceava)
Approx. distance: 430km – 720km of scenic roads and beautiful landscapes
Time: 2 days
Tour description: The tour starts in the morning, at a mutually agreed time and we will visit:
- Tihuta Pass – (Borgo Pass/Dracula)
- Dragomiresti village – we will visit the museum of the peasant woman from Maramures.
- The wooden church from Bogdan Voda – built in 1718, the Wooden church of St. Nicholas from Cuhea (today: Bogdan Voda, Maramures) is located in the middle of the village, specifically in the middle of the old cemetery. This is unusual for a church in Maramures style to be situated on the hill. The walls are built of carved beams, without decorations, the only exception being the twisted rope carving, which surrounds the church. The interior walls were painted in 1754 at the order of Vasile Sapantan, the noble founder.
- The wooden church from Ieud – the upper church of Ieud, inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, is made of fir tree wood. Historians have failed to agree on the date of its construction. The most cautious suggest the 17th century. Others date it as far back as 1364 and deem it to be the oldest in Maramures. The interior frescoes were made by Alexandru Ponehalski, one of the most active church painters in Maramures. The painting in the pronaos depict the Last Judgement, where the blaze of the inferno is about to engulf the sinners. In the attic of the church, an important discovery was made: the Codex of Ieud, a document dating from 1391, which is generally considered to be the oldest example of written Romanian.
- The wooden church of Poienile Izei – The UNESCO designated wooden church at Poienile Izei, “Pious Paraschiva”, is one of the most beautiful and well preserved monuments in all of Maramures. The church was built in 1604 and is covered on the interior with spectacular frescoes. It contains several scenes of the Last Judgment on its “pranaos” (walls). The scenes depict images of terrible punishments for sins: the liar hanged by his tongue, the witch gored by cows for casting a spell on them, the farmer plowed by two devils for stealing his neighbor’s land, the mother forced to swallow her aborted baby, and the person who sleeps while the priest is preaching, is forced to lay on a burning bed and endure the devil’s violin.
- Botiza – we will stop overnight in the small traditional village called Botiza one of the prettiest in all of Maramureş and site of the some of the region’s best homestays
- The wooden church of Rozavlea – built in 1717, recalls to local people the times when there were “cnezateâ€ and voivodeships. The church took part in the local traditional events. Since the old church was burned to the ground by the Tartars, it can be said that this church was brought from another location in Maramures. The Rozavlea wooden church is a symbol of the village, which blends the faith with the tradition, the bad with the good and the new with the old, although it was built and painted by anonymous artisans.
- Barsana Monastery – The Barsana Monastery is located at the southern end of the village and merits a visit by travelers. Within the confines of the monastery, visitors will be hard-pressed not to feel the emotion and pulsing life of the mountains, flowers, fields and hills of the area. Spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and stunning wooden architecture make the monastery one of the most special places in all of Maramures. Most of the buildings within the monastery complex are open to the public. Barsana is also home to Teodor Barsan, a famous handicraftsman in wood, whose work is reknowed all over Maramures and beyond. His son, Ioan Barsan, has inharited his skillfulness and carries on the old handicraft to his day.
- Sighet Communism Memorial – This isn’t a pretty place nor a joyful place. But it is perhaps the most explicit example of how people endured communism. To say it is a moving experience understates the elemental truth of what went on in this prison. Ask anyone in Sighet and they can tell you a personal story of the influence this prison had on their family. Ask anyone in Romania, and they can tell you of a friend, family member, or important person who spent perhaps their final years of life in this prison. It is not a pretty place nor a joyful place. But all must experience it, so humanity can remember how it feels to be confined, tortured, forced to do hard labor, interrogated, and finally murdered because of what one thought or said.
- Elie Wiesel memorial house – In this house from Sighetu-Marmatiei, the Nobel Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel has spent his first 15 years of life. In 1944, Elie Wiesel together with his family and other 38.000 Jewish people from Maramures were deported to Auschwitz, Birkenau and Buchewald by the Natzi regim. In August 2002 Elie Wiesel himself opened the doors of the memorial house. Here you can find a big collection of photoes, furniture and other personal things that belonged to the Jewish community from Maramures.
- Sapanta 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.
- Monastery of Sapanta Peri – very close to Sapanta village there is the Peri Monastery which has the tallest wooden church in the world, 78 meters tall. The monastery was newly erected in 2003 to replace a very old one, destroyed and plundered by the Hungarian Protestants in 1703.
- Sighetul Marmatiei/Suceava – (end of the trip).
Price: 70 EUR/person (approx. 315 lei/person)
Observation: The tour (and price) is available for a minimum of 4 persons. For less than 4 persons, please contact us.
Remember, all the tours can be customize by you!
THE PRICE INCLUDES:
- Professional driver/licencensed tour guide
- Transport with middle class car
THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE: accommodation in Botiza (25EUR for accommodation with half board), tickets (entrance fees), personal expenses, lunch, coffee breaks, foto and video taxes.
The northwestern Romanian region of Maramures is home to many villages where century-old traditions are still part of daily life. The inhabitants of this area have preserved, to an amazing extent, the rural culture and crafts of their Dacian ancestors.
Maramures villages are distinguished by their unique wooden churches with tall spires and shingled roofs. Woodlands still account for more than four-fifths of the land surface of Maramures. It is understandable, therefore, that wood has long been – and continues to be – the medium of expression for the region’s artisans. Elaborate woodcarvings decorate the eaves, entryways and windows of houses. The local handiwork is also seen in the hand-woven carpets and intricate embroidery that adorns folk dresses still worn by the locals.
Carved Wooden Gates
The local craftsmanship can be best observed in the monumental Maramures gates, guarding the entry to the houses. Supported by three columns, they feature traditional ornamental motifs, including the sun and the twisted rope – both symbols of life and continuity. Some of the most beautiful wooden gates are found in the villages of Vadu Izei, Desesti, Giulesti, Budesti, Sarbi, Barsana and Oncesti. The villages of Barsana and Oncesti have, perhaps, the greatest number of impressive gates.
As it has for hundreds of years, social life in Maramures continues to revolve around the village church. The Wooden Churches of Maramures) – in Surdesti, Plopis, Rogoz, Ieud, Poeinile Izei, Barsana, Budesti and Desesti – have been recognized by UNESCO as some of the most important sites of world heritage. Unique in shape and ornamentation, they have characteristic high roofs and tall, narrow, pointed steeples, often collectively describer as ‘the Gothic style of Maramures.’
The primary wood material used by the artisans who built them was local oak, which has survived the elements with sturdy elegance until today. The interior walls of the churches were painted by local artists, with biblical scenes often juxtaposed against the familiar landscape of the village.
The spiritual philosophy of the people of Maramures is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in Sapanta. The town folks’ ancestors considered death as a beginning, not the end, and this faith is reflected in the carvings in the town’s unique Merry Cemetery . Blue wooden crosses feature a carved scene and humorous verses that endeavor to capture essential elements – both the good and the imperfections – of the deceased’s life. Even without benefit of translation, visitors can appreciate the handiwork of sculptor Stan Ion Patras, who began carving these epitaphs in 1935, and his successors. Patras’ house in the village is now a fascinating museum. Sapanta is also home to several wooden gates and one of the region’s tallest wooden churches.
Sapanta is a 20-minute drive from Sighetu Marmatiei, an important tourist and cultural center in the region. The outdoor village museum in Sighetu Marmatiei boasts dozens of homes and farm buildings assembled from around MaramuresCounty. Other attractions include the 16th century ReformChurch, the Elie Wiesel Memorial House, and the Museum of Arrested Thought, located in a former communist prison in the center of town.
Maramures is dominated by a landscape of mountains and rolling valleys. The Gutai, Lapus, Tibles Maramures and RodneiMountains are cut by passes named Huta, Gutai, Prislop, Setref, and Botiza. Three large valleys cross the region: Viseu, Iza and Mara. The Rodnei Mountains National Park, a natural reserve filled with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, has been awarded biosphere status by UNESCO. Here, chamois leap between rocks, the cry of eagles’ rings out overhead and as the snows recede in the spring, crocus and other flowers create swathes of dazzling colors.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, take the narrow-gauge steam train. Starting from the small logging town of Viseu de Sus, the steam railway runs along a scenic road for about 30 miles, chugging behind an old steam engine. The train provides the only access – other than walking – to settlements higher up in the valley. During stops, you can watch workers load firewood and take on water from clear mountain streams. On the trip back down in the evening, the engine driver whistles for brakemen to stop the train – sometimes to pick up or drop off passengers, sometimes to stop to pick wild mountain mushrooms.