Visit Maramures

The land of wooden churches, mythological richness, impressive landscapes and very ancient customs

The Way of Crafts - Day 3

Sighetu Marmaţiei => Vadu Izei => Onceşti => Năneşti => Bârsana => Strâmtura => Rozavlea => Şieu => Poienile Izei => Botiza => Bogdan Vodă => Dragomireşti => Săliştea de Sus => Săcel


Distance: 75 km
Time: 3 hours driving time (one way)


The route for day 3 of this itinerary follows the scenic Iza River Valley through a series of small villages and hamlets set amidst rolling hills and small forests. The first major stop on today's itinerary is Bârsana, home to a magnificent UNESCO wooden church and a stunning monastery.


The signposted wooden church at Bârsana, known as the "Holy Mother's Entrance," was originally built in 1720 and then moved to its present location on Jbar Hill in 1806. It is said that the reason for the relocation of the church was so as to move the church closer to the mass grave of plague victims, so that, they could rest for eternity in the shadow of the church.


Going further, on the left side of the road, you will see the workshop of the wooden carver Toader Bârsan, known in the whole world for his creation. His son, Ioan Barsan, he inherited his talent and skill, and, along with his father he continues this old craft.


  barsan barsana


At the southern end of the village, travellers will find the Bârsana Monastery, perhaps one of the most magnificent sites in all of Maramureş. The monastery is a grand example of traditional wooden architecture. Within the confines of the monastery, visitors will be hard-pressed not to feel the emotion and pulsing life of the mountains, flowers, fields and hills of the area. Spectacular views of the surrounding countryside can be had here. Most of the buildings within the monastery complex are open to the public.


Upon leaving Bârsana, the route continues to follow the meandering of the Iza River. Once you reach the village of Şieu, keep and eye out for the turn off towards Poienile Izei. Take the right off of the main road and follow the signs toward the next stop on the route (10.5 km, 15 min). The UNESCO designated wooden church at Poienile Izei, Pious Paraschiva, is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved monuments in all of Maramureş. The church was built in 1605 and is covered on the interior with spectacular frescoes.


In this area, the traditions and old crafs are very well preserved. Here, on Sundays and holidays, you can see the whole village dressed with their folk costumes. Mrs. Ioana Opris din Poiana is one of the keeper and follower of this traditions. She is a craftswoman who makes this beautiful folk costumes.


 ioana motive


Near Poienile Izei, there is another village, Botiza, known for the famous natural colored carpets made here. In the centr of the village, you can visit the traditional guesthouse owned by Victoria Berbecaru, where popular art objects are exhibited .


  ples dragomiresti


The route, now returns to Şieu, to continue its journey along the Iza River. The next point of interest is the village of Ieud, which is just off of the main road at Bogdan Vodă. Turn right here and follow the road 5.8 km (7 min) until you reach central Ieud. Ieud, which dates from the 14th century, is home to another of Maramureş' famed UNESCO wooden churches and a museum of traditional hemp processing. The church is built of pine and is considered by some scientists to be the oldest wooden structure in Europe. It was also here that a document, dating from 1391, was found in the church attic that is generally considered the first example of written Romanian. 


Follow the road back to Bogdan Vodă and again turn right to continue through the Iza River valley. The next village that you will come to is Dragomireşti. About midway through the town is located a house museum, which focuses on the life of the Romanian peasant in Maramureş. On display, here are traditional costumes, including wedding costumes, textiles, pottery and wood carvings. Traditional crafts are sold here and you may also have the opportunity to witness a traditional craftsperson at work. Dragomireşti is also home to a newer wooden church and a monastery.


The route eventually takes you to the small town of Săcel, close by the headwaters of the Iza River, that has accompanied you on today's journey. Săcel is home to many guesthouses, ceramics and traditional masks artisans.