As I was writing the story below I realized there is no way I could cover all the things you must see in only one article so I’m starting a series of posts about Maramures to be sure I do it justice.
Romania is a beautiful country with all sorts of natural wonders and places to visit, but if you’re looking to spend several days in a remote, quaint, mountain area you should definitely visit Maramures County – situated in the northern part of Romania, it has a border with Ukraine and it’s accessible by car. There are also several airports around, only 2 hours away – Satu Mare and Baia Mare, for example.
Best of Maramures: First stop Sapanta
You should sleep at least 1 or 2 nights in Sapanta as it is one of the most unique and cultural villages of the country. The people are friendly, food is good and you can find accommodation around 20 euro/room that can easily fit at least 2 persons. See some suggestions here.
#1 Once you are settled in you can take a stroll to the village center and visit the Merry Cemetery (Romanian: Cimitirul Vesel), famous for its colourful, wooden tombstones with naïve paintings describing, in an original and poetic manner, the people who are buried there as well as scenes from their lives. The Merry Cemetery became an open-air museum and a national tourist attraction.
For example there is a funny tombstone that says:
“Under this heavy cross
Lies my poor mother in-law
Three more days should she have lived
I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
You, who here are passing by
Not to wake her up please try
Cause’ if she comes back home
She’ll criticise me more…”
#2 Next on your list and only 2 km (1.4 miles) away from the cemetery is the Sapanta-Peri Monastery. A peaceful site with hundreds of years of history and a church built in the Maramures style of solid wood and placed on a stone pedestal. The impressive tower of about 78m (84 yds) transforms the edifice in the highest wooden church in the world. You can reach it by foot, as I did, or by car but drive carefully because it’s a gravel road.
#3 If you are in the mood for some good hiking there is Sipot waterfall near by but you’ll have to ask the locals for directions – Maps & GPS don’t have it indexed yet 😉 Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to see it but I understand it’s about a 4 hours hike and the trail is amazing.
#4 Last, but not least, you should know there is a trout farm in Sapanta where you can either buy the fish and cook it by yourself or eat it there in the restaurant. I must say, it is amazing… but then again, I love fish 😀
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