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Located in the northern part of Romania, in a place described as “probably one of the most peaceful, picturesque, full of tranquility and positive energy places from Romania”, the wooden churches of Maramures are architectural masterpieces which reflect the best example and variety of wood carving design and craftsmanship. They also reflect the role that religion has played in the local community, as well as centuries old traditions that are still being carried out today. Out of about 100 old wooden churches in Maramures, 8 were included in UNESCO heritage as a sign of recognition of their cultural significance and uniqueness.
They are located in the northern part of Romania, near the cities of Baia Mare and Sighetu Marmatiei. The nearest airport is Cluj-Napoca.
The wooden church built in 1643 has St. Nicholas as patron and was considered “magnificent” during its era and long after. The church imposes itself through monumentality and artistic value, being the largest wooden church in Maramures (18m long 8m wide and the tower is 26m high). Inside the church you can find part of a mail shirt which is believed to belong to a famous local outlaw (Romanian, haiduc) - legend says the outlaw named Pintea the Brave himself has left his mail shirt and his helmet in the care of the church after fighting against the tartars.
Location: Budesti - Josani village
The church has as patron the Pious Paraskeva and was build in 1770, while its paintings date around 1780. They illustrate post byzantine influences, are very well preserved and cover all of the walls of the church, showing classical biblical scenes (Judgement Day, Old and New Testament, the Cycle of Sin). Particularly interesting are the representations of various nations (Jews, Turks, Tartars, Germans and French) with their traditional garments and cultural specificities in The Judgement Day. Within the cemetery of this church you can also find Celtic crosses, which are proof of the churches long-standing history but also of the cultural influences of the region.
Location: Desesti village
This church was built in 1720 to replace another which was burned down by tartars. Initially the church belonged to a monastery and was moved to its current placement only in 1806. Specific for this particular church is a wooden sculpted belt surrounding the entire building, having the shape of a braided rope. The iconography is varied and encompasses Barcoo influences.
Location: Barsana village
This is one of the most beautiful and well preserved of the wooden churches of Maramures, build in 1604 and illustrates the evolution in time of the different types of wooden churches. It’s a very small church and its parietal paintings are remarkable for some ample illustrations of the Judgement Day or scenes from the Genesis.
Location: Poienile Izei village
While some argue the church dates back 1364, this church was build in around 1620, given specific elements and the architectural style, as well as the size of the church.
The attic of the church revealed a very old document, considered the first document written in Romanian language, however using Cyrillic letter - “The Ieud Codix”. the codex is dated around 1391-1392, by approximating the year 6900 mentioned on the first page of the manuscript.
The paintings of the church were made in 1782 and illustrate “Judgement Day”, “Holy Trinity” and “The Old and the New Testament”
Location: Ieud Deal village
The church was build in 1721 for the Greek-catholic community of the village. The interior painting dates back 1783 and the church distinguishes itself by the impressive dimensions of the tower build over the entrance (54m), making the total height 72m, which makes this church one of the highest sacred wooed buildings in Europe and the rest o the world. Another particularity of this church is the stone floor and the beautifully decorated „royal” doors, as well as some wooden icons and old stone carved crosses in the church’s cemetery.
Location: Surdesti village
The church was build in 1796-1798 and, at that time, 49 families lived in the village - the cost of building the church was 49 gold coins, split evenly among the village families.
The 47m high construction made of wood harmoniously combines two different styles, the Maramures style (visible in the other wooden churches) and the Northern Transylvanian style.
The church is surrounded by two wooden carved „belts” and the entrance is made through beautifully sculpted doors. The traditional interior painting has been preserved only on the roof and illustrates popular scenes from „The Judgement Day”, „Holy Trinity” and „Cycle of Sins”.
The church, which houses a very old wooden cross as well as two valuable prayer books, is still today the only church in the village and welcomes all confessions.
Location: Plopis village
This church was build in 1663 to replace an older church burned down by Tartar invaders. It is made of Ulm tree and distinguishes itself by the high number of ornaments, the southern entrance and the unitary roof, which is large and uneven. The church still has a very well preserved painting, as well as a wooden chandelier.
Outside of the church you can find the „Wise men table” - the roof of the church was actually extended to provide also cover for this table. The table is split in several areas for each of the wealthy families of the village and their names are written of the wall of the church. This is the place where the eldest of the village used to debate matters important for the community and, around Easter, the wealthy families would donate to the poor.
Location: Rogoz village
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