- IEUD: Ieud Church and the Pleş Ethnographic Museum
- BÂRSANA: The wooden church and BÂRSANA MONASTERY
- SĂPÂNȚA: THE MERRY CEMETERY (CIMITIRUL VESEL)
- VIȘEU DE SUS: Mocănița Steam Train
- SIGHETU MARMAȚIEI: Memorial of the Victims of Communism (Memorialul Victimelor Comunismului)
- SIGHETU MARMAȚIEI: The Village Museum of Maramureș (Muzeul Satului Maramureșean)
- BORȘA: The Horses Waterfall (Cascada Cailor)
- CAVNIC: Ski slopes
UNESCO-listed monument, Ieud Deal church is the oldest church in Maramureș, dating back to 1364. In its attic was found the Manuscript of Ieud, written in Cyrillic letters and considered to be the oldest written text in Romanian (dated 1391); today the manuscript is kept at the Library of the Romanian Academy.
Inside the church you can see the post-Byzantine painting of Alexandru Ponehalschi, one of the most famous artists in 18th-century Maramureș, depicting the Last Judgment and scenes from the Old Testament.
The church’s day is celebrated at the Birth of Virgin Mary (September 8) – a great opportunity to visit the church, not only for the service but also for the locals who join the church dressed in traditional costumes.
TIP: Try to discover and decipher, under some of the windows of the church, the inscriptions written in Romanian.
KEEPER OF THE KEY: Vasile Pleș
THE PLEȘ ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM is found at the foot of the hill on which the church is located. The museum is, in fact, a former Maramureş household transformed by the members of the Pleş family, with passion and respect for history, in a small popular museum. The houses are well preserved in their original condition, and they harbor folk clothing creations, wooden objects and tools, and old wooden furniture.
ADDRESS: Ieud, no. 909
OPENING HOURS: Monday-Friday, between 8.00 – 20.00. Phone: 0262 336 104.
The wooden church of Bârsana is a UNESCO monument and was built in 1720 on another site, being moved by the villagers in 1806 to its current location on Jbâr Hill; the reasons for the church resettlement seem to be multiple, some talking about a cemetery legend of the bubonic plague victims, others about the desire of villagers to protect themselves in the context of the spread of the Catholic cult.
The mural painting, which has a moralizing character, is done by Toader Hodor, an artist from Maramureș who introduced baroque and rococo style elements in the artistic language of the area.
The Day of the Church is celebrated on November 21st, at the Entrance of Virgin Mary in the Church.
TIP: Try to identify the paintings of the angel groups that have their bodies covered with eyes.
KEEPER OF THE KEY: priest Gheorghe Urda
The Bârsana Monastery was built in 1993 over the footprint of the old monastery dating back to the 14th century and destroyed in the 18th century. The monastic assembly, made of wood, according to the local tradition, is composed of: the traditional Maramureş style gate, the bell tower, the church (57 m high), the summer altar, the monks’ private cells, the chapel, the house of the artists, the craftsmen workshop and the museum that hosts the holy books of Maramureș and a wonderful collection of folk art.
Perhaps visiting the cemetery does not sound like something to do on a vacation, but the one in Săpânța is so different from what we know about cemeteries that it has become a unique tourist attraction in the world.
The cemetery, which includes nearly 1,000 brightly colored crosses – with a blue background that has become iconic – is a collection of naive paintings and ironic poems that (re)create representative pieces of life and occupation of the villagers of Săpânța. Epitaphs are written in first person, in popular language. Most of these have been written, for more than half a century, by craftsman Stan Ioan Pătraș, the founder of the “merry cemetery”. In 1977, when he passed away, the tradition was taken further by the woodcarving craftsman Dumitru Pop Tincu.
On a side street near the cemetery you can visit the Stan Ioan Pătraș Memorial House – a small museum that offers guests, apart from miniature painted crosses, massive sculptures and low-reliefs, a rich collection of painted icons on glass, beautifully decorated plates, covers and a suite of photographs of the craftsman and his close friends. A craftsman’s bust, lined up in stone, is placed in front of his house and his workshop.
TIP: Read the epitaphs in the cemetery and look for those that are not necessarily “popular”; these will help you understand the history of the village, the way people are and their occupations.
OPENING HOURS: daily, 10.00 – 18.00.
ENTRANCE FEE: adults 8 lei, children 4 lei.
The steam train, called Mocănița, circulates on the last active logging railway in the Carpathians, which still carries wood from the Vaser Valley forests to the processing plants in Vișeu de Sus.
From May to October, Mocăniţa carries tourists from Vișeu de Sus railway station to Paltinu station on a spectacular route – among the hills, mountains and fields of the Maramureş Mountains Nature Park. The route is 21 km and the journey takes about two hours, including two coffee breaks and the locomotive’s water supply refuel; the stay at Paltinu lasts about an hour or so, depending on the weather conditions – here you can dine in the open or in the woods, or take a short hike. Occasionally, special events such as classical music concerts, brunches and religious holiday or full moon travels are organized.
EARLY AND LATE SEASON AVAILABILITY: May 1 – June 29 / September 18 – November 2
TRAIN SCHEDULE: on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 9.00, from Vişeu de Sus, returning at 14.30.
PEAK SEASON AVAILABILITY: July 3 – September 14
TRAINS SCHEDULE: daily at 9.00, returning at 15.30.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: for train travel at special events, please refer to the program at www.cffviseu.ro.
INFORMATION: you can request info at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +40 262 353 381 (between 8.00 and 9.00), mobile phone +40 744 686 716 (between 8.00-19.00).
FEES: You can buy tickets from the station, starting at 7.00 and costing 57 lei/53 lei (peak season) for adults, 49 lei/45 lei (peak season) for students, retired and disabled people, and 39 lei/36 lei (peak season) for children (children less than 6 years of age who travel with parents enjoy free tickets).
ADDRESS: Cerbului Street, no. 5, Vişeu de Sus
Probably the most disturbing museum in Romania is the Sighet Memorial – a place that today stands as a testimony of how “the man without memory” was created; of the man who was forbidden, with unprecedented brutality, to know and think anything other than the political regime allowed him to. That is why the memorial is, from this perspective, far more than a museum: it is an act of historical justice. We are recovering, through it, the memory.
The memorial can be found in the former political prison in Sighet, a city center building built in 1897 by Austro-Hungarian authorities. It was officially called a work unit – “The Danube Colony”; in fact it was a center of repression and extermination of Romania’s intellectual elites. Here, between 1948-1955, leading politicians, academics, writers, economists, journalists, priests and all who opposed the communist regime in one way or another were brought. The cells in which great personalities of the interwar history died – the former Prime Minister Iuliu Maniu (member of the Peasant Party), for example, or liberal politician Gheorghe Brătianu – were reconstituted and are preserved today in the Sighet Memorial.
By visiting the Museum you will understand more than you could ever learn from a history book: each cell recreates, through original documents, audio and video installations, photographs and other exhibits, the unseen face of communism: forced collectivization, ideological indoctrination of education and press, political purges, life in penitentiaries and forced labor camps, investigation techniques and torture methods, the struggle of the resistance cores. You will also be able to understand how the Communists have come to power in 1946 through election fraud.
And the former prison in Sighet is just one of the jails in which the Romanian elites were exterminated; the lobby of the Memorial presents the entire map of the Romanian penitentiary universe. It’s a memorable picture; and as long as it will stay here, we can say that we have succeeded in defeating the “man without memory” by half-century sacrifices.
OPENING HOURS: 15 April – 15 October: Monday-Sunday 9.30-18.30; October 6 – April 14: Tuesday-Sunday 9.30-16.30, closed Monday.
ENTRANCE FEES: adults 7 lei; pupils, students, pensioners 4 lei; free for former political prisoners, disabled people, journalists.
ADDRESS: Corneliu Coposu Street, no. 4, Sighetu Marmației
TELEPHONE/EMAIL: +4 0262.319.424, +4 0262.316.848; email: email@example.com
The museum, which is actually a miniature village (presenting the structure and the classical layout of a Maramureş village) was inaugurated in 1981 and belongs to the Ethnography section of the Maramureş Museum.
Here you will find very well-preserved monument houses of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries surrounded by their typical annexes (cote, barn, coop, etc.) – all located on streets that lead to the 16th century wooden church brought from Oncești and rebuilt on the small hill in the museum. Inside the complex you can also see an old wooden water mill. The Museum also hosts houses belonging to minorities who lived in the historical Maramureș – Jews, Ukrainians, Hungarians and Germans.
OPENING HOURS: open daily – more info at phone no. 0262 314 229, email firstname.lastname@example.org
ADDRESS: Muzeului Street, no. 1, Sighetu Marmației
The highest waterfall in Romania, the Horses Waterfall, is located in Rodna Mountains, near Borşa: it is formed at an altitude of 1,300 meters and the actual fall of the water is 90 meters high.
The waterfall name comes from a legend. It is said that one summer, when people brought their herds here to graze, they left their horses on Mount Piatra Rea (Bad Rock) – and the horses, surrounded by bears on the plateau above today’s waterfall, fell into the abyss, trying to escape.
How can you reach the waterfall:
By walking on the marked path from the Borşa Tourist Complex (2 hours)
By chairlift, from Borșa Tourist Complex – from the point of arrival you will have to walk for 15 minutes to the cascade; the last chairlift ride is at 5 PM.
There are two ski resorts near Cavnic – 20 km from Ocna Şugatag:
ROATA/SUPERSKI, with 5 low, medium and high difficulty slopes – a total length of 6 km (www.superskicavnic.ro)
ICOANA CAVNIC, with 5 low and medium difficulty slopes – a total length of 8.5 km (www.icoanacavnic.ro)
Both resorts offer rental services and ski/snowboard lessons.
You can also find ski resorts near Mara-Cosău-Creasta Cocoșului – at Mogoşa, Şuior and Izvoare.