Baia Mare => Cărbunari => Berința => Copalnic => Copalnic Mănăștur => Rusori => Cerneşti => Târgu Lăpuş => Rogoz => Lăpuş => Strâmbu Băiuț => Cavnic => Budeşti => Sârbi => Călineşti => Corneşti => Fereşti => Berbeşti => Vadu Izei => Sighetu Marmaţiei
Distance: 133 km
Time: Approximately 5 hours and 45 minutes, including stops to take in scenery and visit monuments along the route. This timeline is a rough guide and may be shorter or longer depending on how many stops are made and the duration of those stops.
Section 1: Baia Mare to Târgu Lapuş (42 km, 2 hrs 15 min)
From the capital of Maramureş, Baia Mare, the route takes you through small hamlets set amid rolling hills and meadows filled with a blend of pink, white, yellow and purple wild flowers. In the summer and autumn months, locals hand-cut the grass with long-handled scythes and create unique haystacks propped up by simple wooden structures.
Passing through Carbunari, you’ll pass by the local marble factory utilizing only the regional raw material. Though many modern houses are constructed using the marble, many villages still have the traditional wooden Maramureşean houses; simple one, two or three room structures designed around the lifestyles of the community members. Whether modern or traditional, most houses are still surrounded by functional gardens; small-holdings growing organic fruit and vegetables for the family. Some villagers also keep bees and sell tasty honey along the roadside. The village of Cerneşti even hosts an annual beekeepers’ festival in late summer. As you drive towards Târgu Lapuş spot, how many typically-Maramureş large wooden gates you can find?
The road takes you beneath the quaint ‘Culmea Prelucii’ mountains dotted with small settlements amid lush forests. The road too, tunnels its way through the forest after the village of Cerneşti. In the middle of the forest, signposted and 2km from the main road, is the ‘Muzeul Florean’ an outdoor marble sculpture museum also used as a camp for amateur sculpturers. The 20 minute walk to the museum through shady forest provides a delightful break to stretch one’s legs.
Before heading down into the regional town of Târgu Lăpuş, take a stop to survey the stunning landscape. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the three close peaks of the Țibles Mountains and to their right, the volcanic Shatra Peak, home to ‘Pintea’, Romania’s own legendary Robin Hood.
Alexandru Perţa Cuza, a traditional craftsman wooden carver, created thousands of wooden crucifixes spreaded all around our country and overseas. His workshop can be visited in Târgu Lăpuş. Info at Târgu Lăpuş City Hall.
For those with time on their hands or specific interest in the region, there are a number of attractions in, and around Târgu Lapuş, clearly signposted by the local Târgu Lapuş Tourism Association.
Section 2: Târgu Lăpuş to Sârbi (58.4 km, 2 hrs 15 min)
A short distance out from Târgu Lăpuş is the small village of Rogoz dating back to 1488 and part of an estate once belonging to Stephen the Great and other Moldavian princes. Down a small turning off the main road, is the orthodox wooden church (be careful - the Saint Paraschiva Catholic Church sits beside it) built in 1661. Now one of eight World Heritage-designated wooden churches in the region, the church of the Saint Archangels Michael and Gabriel is unique for its southern entrance, asymmetrical roof and horse-head cantilever joints. The ‘Elder’s’ table covered by the eaves on the northern side of the church has markings representing the families entitled to sit at it. On religious holidays, these families offered meals to the poor in memory of the dead.
Rogoz is also home to a master craftsman, Mr. Șerban, whose signposted home and workshop can be found just up the road from the church. Mr. Șerban is a master woodcarver and souvenirs are available for purchase. Ask to see some of the spectacular furniture that fills his house.
Near the church, a small traditonal house called "Museum House" can be visited. Old traditional still working tools and objects are exhibited in here.
Leaving Rogoz, the route follows the Lăpuş River upstream through pasturelands to the village of Lapuş, home to an Iron Age tumular necropolis consisting of 70 tumuli and a small village museum. Further on and 2 km from the main road is the ‘Bone Cavern’, a cave carved in Jurassic limestone that is named after the discovery of fossil remains of a cave bear.
The town of Strâmbu Baiut was built up around the mining industry. Mines are now closed, but you can find a place, just outside of Strâmbu Băiuț, where coals are made. At the fork in the road, turn left and follow the Strâmbu River upstream through deciduous and fir forest towards another mining town, Cavnic. The forest is great for walking or mountain biking and there are a number of picnic tables and chairs dotted along the river. If you’re lucky, the smell of burning wood will draw you to the local charcoal producer.
Soon after reaching the brow of the hill and before entering Cavnic, turn right towards Budeşti. Budesti is home to yet another UNESCO designated wooden church. The church of St. Nicolae dates from 1643 and was built on the site of another church. In addition to its inherent beauty, the church here is also noteworthy as it is home to the mail shirt and armoured helmet of Pintea – a local Robin Hood character from Maramures’ past.
Close to the church, second small street to left, you can visit the first craftswoman who makes Maramures` traditional hats, Manuela Borodi called Victorita lu` Barlea. Se continued the familly tradition after the death of her father, the wellknown hats maker Ioan Barlea.
The second section of this route ends in Sârbi. This quaint village is home to many intricately carved wooden gates especially along the right hand side of the road as it passes through the village. It is worthwhile to stop briefly to examine the still operational water driven fulling mill. This authentic mill is still used in the processing of wool from the local herds of sheep. It is located midway through the village.
In the village of Sârbi there are many craftsmen in diferent arts. Among them Vasile Borodi, traditional hats maker; Victoria Duma, traditional coats and bodices maker; Petru Pralea and Gheorghe Opris, wooden carver.
Section 3: Sârbi to Sightetu Marmaţiei (36.3 km, 1 hr 15 min)
Upon leaving Sârbi, the road winds up through rolling hills toward the city of Sighetu Marmaţiei, the final stop on the day’s itinerary. As you pass through the village of Calineşti you can turn left for a slight detour to Ocna Şugatag which is well known in the area for its salt water baths.
As the road continues its northerly route keep an eye on the telephone poles for nesting storks who make this area, especially the village of Berbeşti, there home from late spring until early fall before migrating south for the winter.
Vadu Izei it will be the last small town that you pass through before reaching Sighetu Marmaţiei. Also here, like in every villages of Maramures there are skilled people, which carry on the old traditional crafts.
As you arrive in Sighetu Marmaţiei, simply continue alon, until you reach the center of town. Before entering the central part of town keep an eye out for the Sighet Village Museum located on the right hand side of the road. This museum provides villagers with a snapshot of traditional life in a Maramureş village. When you reach the central square, you will find ample parking. Activities in Sighetu Marmaţiei are included in the Day 2 itinerary.