A visit to Maramures is a visit backwards in time. This special region is a study on a unique rural lifestyle, a farming and wood-sculpturing civilization with local traditions carefully preserved over the centuries.
Throughout the beautiful countryside, you'll find the tall hand-built wooden churches unique to the region, elaborately carved property gates, hand-woven and dyed crafts, and traditional clothing. You'll probably see more horse-carts than automobiles. Most folks live much the same as their ancestors did over the past two centuries. And very few will speak English, but their warmth is easily communicated.
The best way to visit is by car. It is an undeveloped region, without the typical touristic trappings. There are few hotels here; the best places to stay are in the homes of local residents. Romania's well organized rural tourism network arranges accommodation in homes at modest prices, which usually include at least one wonderful traditional meal.
Sighet Marmatiei, at its northwest end, is the only real city in the region. It is also the birthplace of nobel prize writer Elie Wiesel. Nearby is Sapinta, where you'll find the Merry Cemetary. Here, all the grave markers are lavishly carved with humorous epitaphs (in Romanian) and scenes from the deceaseds life.
If you don't have a car, you can probably hire a local to tour you through the Iza Valley, where most of the rural villages and attractions are seen. Some of the villages are: Vadu Isei, Birsana, Botiza, Bogdan Voda and Ieud. The valley's eastern end is at Borsa where there is a small resort in the mountains. Prislop Pass separates Maramures from its eastern neighbor, Moldavia.
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