Thursday, June 12, 2008

Maramures--Sighetui Marmatiei

Sunday in Maramures provided an absolutely perfect early June day for our drive over one of the Carpathian passes to Sighetui Marmatiei. This area retains the most traditional culture and architecture of any place in Romania (and, indeed, in most of Europe). I'm thrilled we got to see it under such fine conditions with tour guides having unsurpassed knowledge.

a tiny wooden roadside church not far from Surdesti

prepared for winter (next door to the famous Surdesti wooden church)

Interior of the Surdesti church with typical embroidered scarfs as decorations

local citizens keep up the church, replacing the wood shingles on the spire every 30 years!

the cemetery is beautiful, if overgrown

Mama hen had all these chicks under her wings as we walked up, but they wriggled out.

entrance to the famous Surdesti Greek Catholic church (1721, 72 meters high -second highest wooden spire in Europe). We saw the priest, who holds daily services for this tiny farming community.

typical entrance gates to a Maramures home - Alina said they often cost as much or more than the house.

Elie Wiesel (holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace prize author, and peace activist based at Boston University) birthplace memorial in Sighetul Marmatiei. The area of Maramures went from 35,000 Jews in 1910 to 48 in 1992. Wiesel lost most of his family after they were "arrested" in 1944. The authorities were frantic to exterminate as many Jews as possible, before the Allies arrived. Sigh.........

a late afternoon snack next door to the Elie Wiesel birthplace memorial. There was a christening party going on with much dancing and music-never saw the infant, however

courtyard of the Sighet prison museum, which features the tortures under the Securitate (secret police), but also the resistance movement

wall honoring victims of the Communist regime in Romania-unlike the Vietnam memorial in DC, this one is below grade with a confined feeling reminiscent of being in prison