Seeking for adventures, we often try to run away from civilization. But people can create awesome things also. On this trip, we went so far to the North that we nearly crossed into Ukraine. Can you imagine that we accidentally found ourselves 500 meters in front of the border? Lucky we, looked on the map at the right time. We were searching for a place to camp that moment… That’s where you can find Maramures and Bucovina regions.
Have you ever heard the statement that the most rural part of Romania is in the North? Forget it! It is the most colorful part of Romania!
For example, let’s go to the… local cemetery! Yes, the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. It is not only unique in Europe for its colorful (I told you – we are in the most colorful part of Romania!) tombstones with poetic stories of people resting there. The first wooden cross was carved relatively recently, in 1935! And by today there are already more than 800 and people are still buried the same way. Even in communists time, everything kept going.
Another feature of Maramures – wooden churches. One of them is also here, the Sapanta Peri monastery church, the tallest wooden church in the world and 14th in the list of all tallest known Orthodox churches. All over the region, you can find almost 100 churches of this type, some are quite small and others rather big and belong to monasteries entirely built in the same style. The background of these buildings creation is the opposition between local citizens and the Catholic Austro-Hungarian authorities who prohibited the erection of stone Orthodox churches in 17th-19th centuries. From the Middle Ages until today the skills, knowledge and experience to build ample log structures with smooth and well-sealed walls, as well as with flush joints, were out of the ordinary. The craftsmen from Maramures who were able to create these masterpieces were not mere peasants but well-specialized church carpenters who inherited and maintained this advanced knowledge to build houses of worship exclusively. The historical Romanian region of Maramures, partitioned between Romania and Sub-Carpathian Ukraine after the Second World War, is one of the places where traditional log building was not interrupted and where a rich heritage in wood still survives. You will be surprised, but the Peri monastery church was constructed in the period of 1998-2003.
8 of the most remarkable Maramures wooden churches are in the UNESCO world heritage list. One of the sites is the Barsana monastery complex. When you cross the gate, you feel like at a mountain resort. Plenty of bright flowers everywhere, wooden buildings… so peaceful. Pictures will tell much more about the place than words. But the best experience, of course, is visiting it.
We all know that history doesn’t know the word “if”. But of course, sometimes we all ask: “What if…?” And the region next to Maramures, Bucovina, can lift a veil of secrecy a little. Also included in UNESCO world heritage list, Bucovina painted monasteries were built before Habsburgs came. By the way, the name came from The German language after the region was taken away from the Principality of Moldavia but still in use unofficially because Bucovina is not equal to any county or area. 6 centuries ago the region was not affected by taboo for building churches of stone. And people living there went further and started to decorate churches with frescoes on external walls. One of the most remarkable objects – the Voronet Monastery. It is not only one of the oldest. The artist who painted its walls has cooked a blue color of a shade nobody can reproduce even nowadays. After 1775 the monastery was inhabited until 1991 and despite that lost paintings only on one wall, mostly vulnerable to winds and rains. Voronet is not just a museum, but it is also still a monastery, so please be respectful and prepare suitable clothes to visit it.
Stay tuned to know more about Planet Romania and its mysteries! Or take a step beyond – come and investigate yourself.