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Maramures, one of Europe´s most important eco-destinations, a well kept secret, known only to the initiated. Over time, the place has been visited by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson or Paolo Pellegrin, writers (William Blacker, who wrote „Along the enchanted way: A Romanian Story”), Prince Charles and many more. Here, in Northern Transylvania is the last bastion of those upholding the ancient European traditions and the last place with authentic native organic farming. A focal point of an authentic peasant culture under pressure from the internet, globalization and EU rules, 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, 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.
Until 30-40 years ago, when new building materials appeared, almost all houses in the region were of wood, like most of the tools and objects in daily use, which led to Maramures being 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, some keeping the specific porch with sculpted columns, and a roof of pine (covered by fir wood shingles (more and more expensive and requiring replacement every 25 years). 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. These are built 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. Thus, thanks to the images of torture for those guilty of adultery and drunkenness, the first divorces in some villages took place only thirty or forty years ago!
Without any exaggeration, Maramures can be 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. In the region there are also hundreds of mineral springs (most of which are not used) and even salt lakes.
Maramures is a perfect destination for photographers or adventurers, students or children, for backpackers or families. It’s also a romantic place for lovers, as well as for those who want to relive their childhood. To each, the magic land of Maramures has something to offer…