Maramures in the far north of the country is justifiably considered by many to be the heart and soul of rural Romania; somewhere to sit and watch the world go by. The unspoilt countryside with small villages, rolling hills and meadows epitomises the rural lifestyle, a place where time has passed by unnoticed, preserving the culture and traditions of a romantic era lost through much of Europe. The Maramures seem to be something of a well known secret ….. a contradiction resulting in it being one of the least visited regions of Romania even though it is one of the better known. Perhaps it is this that helps it to maintain its traditional identity without becoming a tacky tourist trap. The area is heavily wooded and, with traditional wood craft forming a central part of the local culture, Maramures villages are distinguished by their unique wooden churches with tall spires and shingled roofs. This church in Rozavlea was originally built elsewhere in the late 18th century and moved to this, the site of an ancient church destroyed during the last Tartar invasion. The building resonates with the skill and love poured into the hand crafted wood, giving it a soul of its own.
(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)