Welcome to Maramures, Romania. Surrounded by mountains, crossed by rivers, displaying picturesque valleys with villages dating back to the 14th century, traditional agricultural techniques unchanged for centuries, peasants wearing folk costumes, Maramures is an enchanting and unspoilt vacantion destination, rich in cultural traditions, crafts, and probably the best preserved wooden architecture in Europe. Outstanding are its wooden churches dating from 17th and 18th centuries, eight of which have been declared in 1999 Unesco World Heritage monuments:
"The Holy Archangels" Church of Surdesti, "The Holy Archangels" Church of Plopis, "The Holy Archangels" Church of Rogoz, "Saint Nicholas'" Church of Budesti, "Pious Paraskeva" Church of Desesti, "The Presentation of the Virgin to the Temple" Church of Barsana, "The Nativity of the Mother of God" Church of Ieud, "Pious Paraskeva" Church of Poienile Izei.
Except for the last church on the list we covered in our trip all the sites mentioned above as well as other old churches considered monuments of local architecture.
The criterion for inclusion of these churches in the World Patrimony is that of being remarkable "examples of vernacular religious wooden architecture resulting from the interchange of Orthodox religious traditions with Gothic influences in a specific vernacular interpretation of timber construction traditions, showing a high level of artistic maturity and craft skills".
Historical Maramures in northern Romania can be reached by air or by land and visited through an authorised Romanian travel agency which provides a specialized English speaking guide and access to the Unesco sites, namely visiting the churches which are otherwise not open to the public for reasons of not being in use anymore or closed for restauration. We chose a locally based travel agent, Dan Comanescu who is a seasoned English guide and owner of Nord NordVest Travel Agency offering daily tours of wooden churches and historical sites in Maramures, Transylvania and Bukovina. With more then 200 art and architecture monuments, some of them unique in the world, Maramures is a place to visit authentic workshops of folk arts and crafts like ceramics, carpet and rug weaving, masks making, glass painting, wood carving. Our experience was memorable and here you will find the very reasons for visiting this beautiful land. Let's go.
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