Here is a little taste of what you can experience in this amazing part of Romania:
*This film has been produced by CJIT MaramureşInfoTurism within ACCESS2MOUNTAIN international project. Financed by South-East Europe Transnational Cooperation Programme.
5 day tour
What is included
Accommodation ( 4 nights at pensions or guesthouses)
3 meals/day (these can be either at locals, restaurants, picnics or sandwiches)
Guidance (English speaking guide)
Transfer from Viseu de Jos to Sapanta and then to Baia Mare
National Geographic Traveler lists Maramures as one of the top destinations for 2015 . The Telegraph recently published an article called ‘Romania: Maramures is a rural fairytail’. This unique part of Romania got a lot of attention in the last few years. And it surely deserves all this attention because it is a pretty special place. The hystoric county of Maramures is renowned for its 17 and 18th century wooden churches and wooden gates and for its incredibly well preserved villages and rural lifestyle. Although most people have cell phones and you’ll probably see some cars, in some villages the old way of life is still present and can be seen in every aspect of the day to day life. People still wear their traditional clothing on Sundays, they plough their fields with the use of animals and carry their hay and supplies with horse drawn carts.
Baia Mare is the county seat of Maramures and also the best starting point for exploring the historic region.
The earliest known document that mentioned Baia Mare (under the name of Rivuli Dominarum) dates back to 1329 but the city goes way back in time. Some of its medieval past is preserved in the main town square.
The main drive in the city’s growth was the mining industry. The city probably has a history of 2000 years of gold and silver extraction.
The main attractions revolve around the old city centre which is made up of a series of baroque and gothic buildings the earliest dating back to 1440 (the House of Iancu de Hunedoara, voivode of Transylvania).
Probably the most representative building of Baia Mare is the Tower of Stephen which was built between 1446 and 1468 as a bell tower for the St. Stephen Cathedral which was later destroyed. The tower also had a rough time being burned down and rebuilt a few times. It is in its actual form since 1898. The tower can be visited and it reveals a great panorama of the city.
Also part of the old medieval town are the Butcher’s Tower (actually an ammunition tower built in the 15th century) and The Mint Bastion (now being the County Museum).
Bodi lake is like a huge swimming pool in the middle of the forest with clean mountain water and a breathtaking view. There is nothing more refreshing than going for a swim on a hot day after having pedaled for many kilometers. Beside swimming, if you want to switch from your mountain bike to a water bike you can rent them for a while and pedal on the Bodi lake.
Creasta Cocosului is a spectacular formation part of the crater of a volcano situated in the Gutai mountains at an altitude of 1428 meters. Translated Creasta Cocosului means Rooster’s Crest. Up on the crest you can get a beautiful panorama of Maramures county. It is part of a reservation and it is a protected area since 2000.
Budesti is a small village in some ways untouched by the modernity. It has one of the wooden churches that are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The church houses the chain mail and helmet that belonged to Pintea Viteazul, a real-life Robin Hood from Maramures.
Breb is a 500 house community situated at the foot of Gutai Mountain. ‘Stepping back in time’ would be the best way to describe the feeling that you get when visiting this little farm village. It is a stunning example of the preservation of the old way of life.
Mocanita narrow gauge railway dates back to 1932 and it was built for logging. It replaced the traditional way of transporting the logs from the forest to the sawmills of Viseu de Sus which was by using log rafts down the Viseu river. During the 1970’s in Romania the forestry administration operated more than 3000 kilometers of railway. After the Revolution in 1989 almost all of the railways were decommissioned and closed. The railway on the Vaser valley is the last one remaining and still functional. What is rather amazing is that it still serves its original purpose. Since 2005 there are regular passenger trains hauled by steam locomotives transporting tourists on the railway. In 2007 the Vaser Valley became a protected area as part of the Maramures Mountains.
The Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance (http://www.memorialsighet.ro) is a communist prison turned into a museum. It’s not a regular prison though. The detainees here were the intellectual elite that opposed the regime. Each cell was turned into a museum room.
After 1945 the prison became a symbol of the communist crimes. Some of the most representative personalities of Romania from politicians, journalists and priests to members of the army were detained here and few of them survived.
The Merry Cemetery is located in the village of Sapanta and it’s famous for its colorful gravestones with naive paintings. They also contain a description af the deceased life or death in a poetic manner.
The first day (26 km) of our tour will be spent mostly in Baia Mare. We begin our journey by taking a tour of the city. We’ll visit the Ethnography and Folk Art Museum, the old city centre, where we can climb into the Tower of Stephen and see a beautiful panorama of the city and on request we’ll be visiting the Mineralogy Museum which is unique in the country. After lunch we’ll be leaving Baia Mare towards the Bodi Lake at Mogosa. There are a few activities available depending on how tired we are. We can either bathe in the lake and relax in the sun or go for a hike (or even climb to the top of the ski slope with the ski lift which also works in the summer). We’ll be spending the night here.
The second day (30) we’ll be following a beautiful mountain dirt road that will take us to Creasta Cocosului where we’ll have a picnic lunch accompanied by the picturesque scenery. We will leave the bikes for an hour or so and climb the rocky formation and admire the panorama. Then the road will take us to Budesti (most of the road is paved) where we will visit one of the eight wooden churches of Maramures that UNESCO has listed as World Heritage sites. Finally we’ll arrive in the village of Breb to spend the night.
Don’t be intimidated by the 70 kilometers of pedaling of the third day! There won’t be any steep climbs. We’ll be following the valley of the Iza river to Moisei. The Iza valley spans for 83 kilometers and collects hundreds of small rivers before joining the Tisa river. Along the valley there are many villages dating back to the 15th century with great historical significance. They house some of the UNESCO World Heritage wooden churches. We’ll be spending the night in Moisei.
The fourth day is dedicated to the narrow gauge railway ‘Mocanita’ in Viseu de Sus. We’ll have to pedal 10 kilometers to reach Viseu de Sus. At 9 am the train leaves the station an we begin our trip on the Vaser valley. The journey lasts until half past three in the afternoon. Then we’ll be pedaling for 8 kilometers to Viseu de Jos where we’ll take the train (or our van) to Sighetu Marmatiei.
The fifth day we put the bikes aside and take a trip with our van to The Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance and then to the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. After we visit the cemetery we head back to Baia Mare (or Cluj-Napoca).
If you wish to book this tour or have any questions don’t hesitate to send an email or call.