Maramureș is a densely forested county in the north of Romania that makes you feel as if you’ve stumbled into a Grimm’s fairy tale.


Something I especially loved about the area was its wooden churches. We drove from one little village to another in search of these beautiful buildings. Constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries, they are richly decorated with painted bible stories and handmade textiles. Most of them are still in use.

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Maramureș is also known for its large carved wooden gates.  You see these in front of houses and public buildings. Some are old, but the tradition continues and there are new ones being constructed as well.

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We stayed in a pensiunea in the tiny village of Breb. Pensiuni are small inns, often in family homes. This one was on a farm. Breakfast is included, and at ours you could also buy lunch or dinner. There were no restaurants in the village – good thing, because otherwise we might not have found out what a great cook our hostess was.

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A local specialty is the homemade sour cherry brandy called visinata. People offer little glasses of it to you in the afternoon if you come to visit, or serve it after dinner. Sometimes it comes in a bottle with a wooden ladder inside, sort of like a ship in a bottle.

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Here are a few pictures of Breb.

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We drove up to Săpânța near the Ukrainian border to visit the “Merry Cemetery.”

The carved wooden grave markers here commemorate the parish’s dead with a personalized picture and a rhyming poem. At first they were the work of one man, who later trained a second man to succeed him in the tradition. In the pensiunea in Breb there was a book that showed some of the rhyming epitaphs translated into English. Not all the poems were complimentary, sometimes highlighting the person’s foibles or quirks.

Each marker features a picture of the person who died – sometimes engaged in an occupation,

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sometimes showing something about his or her character or circumstances,

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or sometimes depicting an unusual death.

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Here are some more photos I took walking and driving around Maramureș.

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About lornaofarabia

I am a teacher from Medford, Oregon. I currently live and work in Bangkok, Thailand.
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