Local Activities – Cedra Tour – Maramures Eco-Trip

In pursuing the main objectives of the project “E.E.F.Ect. – European Education Fostering Ecotourism”, such as the promotion of environmental education among young people and adults, implementing in particular the development of ecotourism, as a starting point for the development of active citizenship, each project partner organization has carried out some activities/initiatives at local level, directly involving other local partners and stakeholders as well.

CEDRA TOUR has organized an eco-trip , which took place between 16th and 19th of April 2019. Students from Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen Bacau Technical Communication College had the opportunity to discover this amazing land, to explore the authentic Romanian lifestyle, crafts, traditions, local gastronomy and get closer to nature and even to God .
By doing Maramures eco-trip they were introduced to the local culture, still vibrant with vitality, were offered high-quality local services and products… and they make their vacation turn into a small “investment” into a local economy that starts to work by integrating nature preservation and local culture in the economic equation through ecotourism.
The northwestern Romanian region of Maramures is home to many villages where century-old traditions are still part of daily life. The inhabitants of this area have preserved, to an amazing extent, the rural culture and crafts of their Dacian ancestors.
Maramures villages are distinguished by their unique wooden churches with tall spires and shingled roofs. Woodlands still account for more than four-fifths of the land surface of Maramures.

Carved Wooden Gates

The local craftsmanship can be best observed in the monumental Maramures gates, guarding the entry to the houses. Supported by three columns, they feature traditional ornamental motifs, including the sun and the twisted rope – both symbols of life and continuity. Some of the most beautiful wooden gates are found in the villages of Vadu Izei, Desesti, Giulesti, Budesti, Sarbi, Barsana and Oncesti. The villages of Barsana and Oncesti have, perhaps, the greatest number of impressive gates.

It is understandable, therefore, that wood has long been – and continues to be – the medium of expression for the region’s artisans. Elaborate woodcarvings decorate the eaves, entryways and windows of houses. The local handiwork is also seen in the hand-woven carpets and intricate embroidery that adorns folk dresses still worn by the locals.

Wooden Churches

As it has for hundreds of years, social life in Maramures continues to revolve around the village church.
The Wooden Churches of Maramures ) – in Surdesti, Plopis, Rogoz, Ieud, Poeinile Izei, Barsana, Budesti and Desesti – have been recognized by UNESCO as some of the most important sites of world heritage.
Unique in shape and ornamentation, they have characteristic high roofs and tall, narrow, pointed steeples, often collectively described as ‘the Gothic style of Maramures.’

The primary wood material used by the artisans who built them was local oak, which has survived the elements with sturdy elegance until today. The interior walls of the churches were painted by local artists, with biblical scenes often juxtaposed against the familiar landscape of the village.
The spiritual philosophy of the people of Maramures is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in Sapanta. The town folks’ ancestors considered death as a beginning, not the end, and this faith is reflected in the carvings in the town’s unique Merry Cemetery . Blue wooden crosses feature a carved scene and humorous verses that endeavor to capture essential elements – both the good and the imperfections – of the deceased’s life. Even without benefit of translation, visitors can appreciate the handiwork of sculptor Stan Ion Patras, who began carving these epitaphs in 1935, and his successors. Patras’ house in the village is now a fascinating museum. Sapanta is also home to several wooden gates and one of the region’s tallest wooden churches.

Also, Maramures is dominated by a landscape of mountains and rolling valleys. The Gutai, Lapus, Tibles Maramures and Rodnei Mountains are cut by passes named Huta, Gutai, Prislop, Setref, and Botiza. Three large valleys cross the region: Viseu, Iza and Mara. The Rodnei Mountains National Park, a natural reserve filled with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, has been awarded biosphere status by UNESCO. Here, chamois leap between rocks, the cry of eagles’ rings out overhead and as the snows recede in the spring, crocus and other flowers create swathes of dazzling colors.
Mara-Cosău – Creasta Cocoșului (ecotourism destination since 2014): between the valleys of the Mara and Cosău rivers, bordered by volcanic mountains to the south, lies an ”island” of authentic traditional life, part of the historic region of Maramureș, which still dazzles ethnographers and philologists. The mosaic-like landscapes with alpine pasture land, meadows, brooks, orchards and century-old forests line up harmoniously alongside wild areas, which host brown bears and lynxes, chamois, wild boars or wolves.

Our students had the opportunity to visit the Horses’ Waterfall in Rodnei Mountains surrounded by a breathtaking scenario and tranquillity, the Nature Reserve of Pietrosu Rodnei (2303 m), glacier lakes and Ocna Șugatag wich is located in the Mara River Valley and it is popular for its salty mineral waters which provide health benefits.

The event therefore had an ecological and tourist connotation, to discover the natural resources, the historical and geographic heritage and to enhance their environmental knowledge, inducing them to develop favorable attitudes toward the environment, and making them take environmental actions to reduce the impact of tourism.
For this Eco-trip the students have documented about the destinations they have visited, how they are promoted to tourists.
After the eco-trip they created a brochure, available in English and Romanian, and which will be used by CEDRA TOUR promote this destination to other tourists.

May 23, 2019
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