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What to see and do in Maramures region

Maramures (northern Transylvania, Romania) is one of Europe´s most important eco-destinations, the last bastion of those upholding the ancient European traditions the last place with authentic native organic farming, a focal point of an authentic peasant culture under pressure from the internet and globalization, showing us how Europe was 50 years ago, before the industrialization of agriculture.
In Maramures those searching for the essence of „slow living” and “back to nature” can find a lifestyle where many inhabitants still practice self-sufficient farming! Large areas from the Land of Maramures, never felt pesticide and pest treatments, just because modern farming has simply not reached the hills. The vegetables, fruits, meat and milk produced there have a taste from your childhood, while the air and water are as pure as champagne...
The region was known until few years ago known as “The Land of Wood”. Notwithstanding the modernization, the lack of enforced regulations and the demolitions, there are still thousands of wooden houses, built from horizontal beams of oak and pine, of small dimensions, with high pitched roofs covered by pine wood shingle, some keeping the specific porch with sculpted columns. You can also see hundreds of wooden gates, sculpted (carved) with ornaments inspired by magic (the hand, the snake or human silhouettes), totems (horns or wolf fangs canine teeth), and by cosmic, pre-Christian influences (the sun and moon).
The wooden heritage also include forty old churches, eight of which are protected by UNESCO, and another 40 new built wooden churches. These are erected in the amazing “Maramures Gothic” style and contain furniture and old icons on wood or glass, covered by naive frescoes. In some narthexes can be viewed frightening scenes from the Last Judgement, describing the punishments for sinners, scenes whose efficiency was proven time and again.
Maramures can be also considered a capital of traditional crafts, with hundreds of genuine artisans, working for community (not just for tourists, like in other parts of the world) in wood and textile, iron or leather, clay or straw…
Maramures preserves one of the richest biodiversity in Europe, with thousands of plant and animal species, a heaven of wild flowers (orchids, edelweiss, etc.), butterflies and birds, with virgin forests hosting large carnivores and many endemic species or hundreds of mineral springs (most of which are not used anymore).
The region's main town, Sighetu Marmatiei (or Sighet) is 4 hours drive from Cluj Napoca Airport, or 6-7 hours from Budapest Airport.
The top attractions list (count 3-4 days to do it) may include: The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, Sapanta-Peri Monastery (the tallest wooden church in the world), the Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance from Sighet, the Vaser Valley steam train ("Mocanita"), the UNESCO Wooden Churches of Maramures, the impressive Barsana Convent, the best preserved Cosau, Mara and Iza Valley villages, Sighetu’s Village Museum, Ethnographic Museum and Elie Wiesel House (the Jewish Museum) and the mountains, part of the Carpathians (Rodna National Park, Maramures Mountains Natural Park and the Volcanic Mountains).
Once arrived in Maramures, you'll find a couple of very convenient accommodation and also some good local guides who can show you the region's treasures.

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