The land of fairy tales...
Maramures is a beautiful area known for its wooden churches, wooden gates and the last remaining peasant culture in Europe. There are around half a million people who live in the county, half in the countryside. The density of the population is 81 people per square kilo meter. 83% Romanian, 8.9% Hungarians 6.9 Ukrainian and 1.4% are Gypsies and a token few western Europeans. Around 40% of the land is mountainous 30% rolling hills and 30% flatlands and meadows.
Ok that’s enough of the geography lesson for now. We have lived here on and off for four years and are slowly learning about all the things to see and do here, and the history. There are loads of great stories like that of Romania’s Robin Hood, Pintea Viteazul or the story of the prisoners of communism in the Sighetu Prison Museum and of course our Gutai Mountain and the Merry Cemetery. There’s loads to do and lots to explore.
What’s nice is apart from the Merry Cemetery you’ll be the only foreigners around and will attract great interest from locals you will meet along the way. There are some great books on Maramures especially the one written by William Blacker Along the Enchanted Way, which is all about our village, Breb. Come and stay in our villas in Breb and we’ll find you the book that is right for you and you can read all about it when you arrive.
Maramures has been at the crossroads of empires for thousand of years and is always getting caught up in other peoples expansion plans. The Dacians were eventually concurred by the Romans in 106 in the Sourthern part of Maramures and integrated into the Roman Empire but lived more freely than the rest of the Romans and like the North of England, Maramures became too much for the Romans to care about and in 273 they left. On our side of the mountains at Cavnic was like the other side of Hardens Wall in northern England. It’s still wild and still the land of the free.
In the next 1000 years the tribes of the Saxons, Celts, Avars and the Huns moved around Romania but due to Maramures being a region cut off by mountains on all sides the Dacians ways of life lived on. In 1241 the Tartar invaded Maramures and decimated about half of the local population. Since then the Maramures have wanted nothing more than a peaceful life and were part of Hungry until 1920 after the Treaty of Trianon, the northern part of the county became part of newly formed Czechoslovakia. The southern part including Sighetu Marmaţiei became part of Romania and has remained so until this day. Due to being cut off from the rest of the world and even the Hungarian empire the people of Maramures are physically different to the rest of Romania and think differently to. They are not concerned with what is going in in Bucharest, that is a life time away in the south and of no concern. What goes on in Sighetu and the neighboring villages up to Baia is all that matters.
Budapest is closer than Bucharest and there is more connection with Hungry than with the south of Romania. The history of the area would not be complete without telling the story of Pintea Viteaszul, Maramures’s very own Robin Hood. We have some great books on the history of Maramures on our house in Breb. So when you come to stay if you are interested in understanding more let us know and we’ll fix you up with enough reading to last you your hole stay.