A distance between Maramures Mountains and our kind-hearted, Polish Bieszczady is only 150 km in a straight line. This Romanian region is so culturally different from what we know, that it’s literally impossible to forget the views seen there.
Maramures - an exotic sounding name of the region lying in an equally exotic country, and actually on the border between two countries. The northern part belongs to Ukraine, while the rest - to Romania. What's more, Maramures, administratively belongs to Transylvania, which gives him an even greater mystery. After all, these lands are shrouded in legend of scary Dracula, and gloomy peaks of the Carpathians seem as if they remember many terrifying stories.
For example, while being in Cracow, you can get to this mystical land quite easily, passing Slovak Kosice, Hungarian Miskolc, and finally the Romanian Satu Mare. You have to cover a distance of about 610 km.
Legends, myths and wooden churches of Maramures
The first thing that attracts the attention of tourists visiting Maramures are wooden orthodox churches. These temples are typical to this region and they are considered to be the highest wooden buildings in Europe – their tall spires and shingled roofs attract the eye from a long distance.
You won’t ever forget the trip to Maramures. Exploring this part of Romania isn’t about getting to know as many places as possible (not to mention the "modern" attractions, such as discos or clubs). Visit to this region is the contemplation of the past, delight over the raw, almost wild nature. It's like a slow osmosis, choking on a remarkable culture and hospitality of inhabitants. In the passing villages, we’ll see archaic rural homesteads, beautiful wooden farms, and at every step we’ll encounter authentic and still alive folklore.
While in Maramures, it’s necessary to visit one, really unusual place - Merry Cemetery in the village of Sapanta. It’s the only object of this sort in Europe, and nothing compares to it. It’s blue and very decorative, and surprised tourists may literally feel dizzy. Joyful epitaphs in the form of scenes from lives of inhabitants are a permanent element of tombstones, which is kind of a village tradition. This painted cemetery was enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
The charms of the Maramures Mountains
The region is known for an extraordinary beauty of its mountains, by many considered as the wildest mountains of Romanian. It’s largely inhabited by Ruthenian population, and in many villages you can easily communicate in Polish. Wandering through the peaks, you may not meet any man for days. This is a harsh terrain, really unfriendly to tourists used to the comforts and achievements of civilization. Maramures Mountains are a challenge for experienced enthusiasts of hiking - and only they should approach them. Others may easily get lost, and then only wait for luck or some shepherd.
The highest peak is Farcaul (1956 m), and those, who desire to conquer it, should begin the expedition from Ruscova Valley. The village froze in time - the locals farmers have both tractors and horses, and women still wear traditional scarves on their heads.
When visiting Romania it’s definitely worth to visit Maramures. The region is distinguished by living folklore, raw beauty of nature and cordiality of inhabitants. Time goes by very slowly here.