Maramures Land of wooden gates
Maramures Land of wooden gates
Maramures is the land of wooden churches, mythological richness, impressive landscapes and very ancient customs. It has carefully preserved the culture, traditions, and lifestyle of a medieval peasant past. The last peasant culture in Europe is thriving here, with hand-built ancient wooden gates, traditional music, colourful costumes and festivals. It is considered by many to be the heart and soul of rural Romania.
The history of Maramures is told through the wood of their churches. Along the centuries, the area’s foreign rulers did not allow the people living here to build long lasting stone churches, so instead, the local carpenters raised beautiful wooden churches to communicate with God. Wood became their best friend and companion.The wooden church of Barsana, known as the “Holy Mother’s Entrance”, was originally built in 1720 and later moved to its present location on Jbar Hill in 1806.
The region stands as a testament to traditional; to a romantic era of simplicity, pride and moral values that many of us can only now read about or hear from our grandparents. Little has changed in the centuries gone by. Families remain in the same villages as their ancestors. Traditional skills and crafts are passed down from generation to generation. Traditional hand-woven clothing continues to be practical. The church continues to be the soul of the village. Neighbours know one another and continue to lend a helping hand. Life in Maramures is like a mystery. Visitors to Maramures drive through mountain passes and descend into the valleys of life where the mystery of rural traditions unfolds before the visitor as a living museum that is at once within reach yet simultaneously beyond the grasp of the whimsical traveller.
The churches are not only majestic historic monuments, but are also working religious centers attracting parishoners. Every Sunday morning, throngs of villagers can be seen parading to worship, some of them still wearing their traditional Maramures costumes. The men traditionally sit in front while the women squeeze into the specially partitioned rear of the church. A group of women can also often be seen praying outside the church.Of the almost one hundered old wooden churches in Maramureş (36 of them located in the Historical Maramures), eight are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are located in the villages of Bârsana, Budeşti, Deseşti, Ieud, Plopiş, Poienile Izei, Rogoz and Surdeşti.
CFF Vişeu de Sus is located in the East side of Maramureş county. Also known as “Mocăniţa” or Vaser Valley railway, the steam train track leads along the River Vaser and is the only mean of transport to the heart of Maramureş Mountains (protected area).Built in 1932, the Vaser Valley railway is still working, primarily aimed as logging wood from the forest for the wood processing factories from Vişeu de Sus. CFF Vişeu de Sus is today the last remaining functional forestry train in Europe still used for wood transportation.
Maramures boasts 38 natural protected areas.
The 3300 hectares Pitrosul Rodnei Wildlife Reserve was pronounced UNESCO’s ” Reserve of the Biosphere”. Endemic wild plants, chamios and marmots are the chief protected species, thriving here in the middle of the beautiful alpine landscape spotted with glacial lakes.The Sweet Chestnut Tree Reserve covers 500 hectares on the hills neighbouring Baia Mare city.Creasta Cocosului Geological Reserve is centered around the narrow jagged andesite ridge, a vestige of a former volcanic crater, who’s name is translated ” the Rooster’s Peak.”Chiuzbaia Fossil Reserve: Here we can find remains of Pliocene vegetation impeinted in diatomaceous limestone.
Maramures Mountains Natural Park, Lapus Gorge, Tatar’s Gorges on the Izvoare plateau, Morareni Lake near the village of Breb are just a few of the other protected areas, a delight for the eye.