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Today’s journey is going to take us to Maramures, one of Romania’s the most traditional regions. It is very well known, in particular because of the wood-culture and the many ethnic minorities living here for centuries. Each and every house and church used to be built out of wood, as woodcarving is still one of the most popular occupations in this area.
After a couple of hours of driving from Cluj, we will reach Baia Mare, the capital of the region. It used to be one of the wealthiest cities in Romania. Leaving Baia Mare we reach our next destination of the day: the wooden church of Surdesti. The interior of the church is of a rare simplicity and beauty: on the walls one can see many scenes from the Old and New Testament, such as the life and works of the Prophet Elias and the Judgment Day. Although the church is under UNESCO patronage, it is still being used each day by the local community, who has decorated it with several handmade carpets and towels.
Leaving Surdesti behind, we will cross the Gutin Pass and reach Sighetu Marmatiei. The small city is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Romania, with Romanian, Hungarian, Jewish, German and Ukrainian communities living together for centuries. Sighet is also home to one of the country’s most interesting museums. Thousands among the regime’s adversaries/opponents have suffered terrible traumas in this establishment, which has now been turned into an interesting museum of the communist resistance. We will have the chance to discover this sad, but important part of the Romanian history.
Next on our list is one of the most interesting sights in the Maramures: the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta. An old tradition, gives the locals the belief in life after death. This is the reason why death is seen as something normal, as a next step in life. A local artist decided to paint funny scenes on the cross of a deceased, something that would later on turn this cemetery into a unique resting place across the world. The tradition is still being continued today as the cemetery is full of crosses telling funny, uncensored stories about boozers, Lovelace and communist party members.
From Sapanta we will return to Cluj and if there is still enough time, we will visit the wooden church in Bogdan Voda.
Transport by car or van
English speaking guide
Entrance fees according to the program
VAT and all other taxes
Admire the Unesco wooden Church in Surdesti
Discover the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta