There are many regions in this world that are worth a visit, and very often we Europeans tend to travel overseas to see something exotic, or visit people who still lead a life that perhaps our grandfathers knew. Rarely it occurs to us that it is not always necessary to travel far to be able to experience “time travel”.
Maramures in northern Romania is one such little known corner of Europe. Amid beautiful rolling hills and lush river valleys live people who for the most part still follow the traditional agrarian way of life. Their life might seem hard and simple and it is a millenarian fight against the weather, to grow the crops, to raise the animals, to work from dawn until sunset without the many mechanized and electronic comforts we think are essential. But, that life can be rewarding in all its simplicity, as each day shows the results of work, and family and friends guarantee that there are often reasons for celebration. The seasonal festivities, like Christmas and Easter or local festivals and weddings, have retained their real value of breaking the everyday routine, and feasting lasts several days and is done with gusto.
Why is the region considered unique and those who have been there want to return? The answer is a mixture of three things: amazing landscapes, genuine people and the simple civilization of wood, with the famous wooden churches whose towers can be seen from far. The nature, people, houses and churches are spiritually connected and have maintained this link to the present.
But most of all is the uniqueness of the architecture is the inclusion of eight wooden churches in UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. These churches are the church of the Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple in Barsana, the church of Saint Nicholas in Budesti, the church of Saint Parasceva in Desesti, the church of the Birth of the Holy Virgin in Ieud Deal, the church of the Holy Archangels in Plopis, the church of Saint Parasceva in Poienile Izei, the church of the Holy Archangels in Rogoz, and the church of the Holy Archangels in Surdesti.
Our guidebook: Maramures – A Travel Guide to Romania ‘s Region of Wooden Churches is an excellent full-color book on a wide variety of cultural heritage subjects from mural paintings and archaeology to architecture and local traditions. It also gives practical information and tips on travel to and in Romania, what to see, where to stay, what to buy and to eat, to get the most of Maramures.
Why a guidebook and not another type of book? Because we consider that a cultural guidebook addresses those who, while enjoying a memorable holiday, can also help such a special region develop and maintain its specificity and character. To assure the preservation regions like Maramures, it is necessary that they do not fall into total oblivion. It is necessary that the young people can remain, find work and live there with their families, while being at the same time aware of the importance of their inheritance. Cultural tourism can be a mutual investment that can bear fruit for everyone. The visitor’s joy and the host’s joy are both real experiences.
We hope that you will enjoy your travel to Maramures!