If you are visiting Maramureş, make sure you go and see the wooden churches!They are famous in Maramureş.
The first one had a cemetery surrounding it. The church was built in 1770 and the inside was painted in 1780.
There were two rooms inside. We only got to see the first room because there was a service going on inside to honor a deceased person. Florin (our guide) said that the person they were honoring could have died a year ago, or 6 months ago, not really sure. But they had beautiful round and braided loaves of bread on the table, with tall candles sticking out of them. And some of the loaves were impaled on a glass bottle. Florin said that the bread is an offering to the deceased.
The first room in the church is for the women to stay in, and only men can enter into the second room. We looked at the paintings in the first room – they were beautiful. Florin explained it to us later. He said that the first room is for judgment after you die. Heaven on the left, and hell on the right. You can see the people in the paintings being tortured and sad on the right side. In the second room, it is painted with scenes from the bible. Because everybody used to not have a bible, they would come here to learn about the bible stories.
Oh, and we love that there are chickens EVERYWHERE.
The second wooden church we went to was also surrounded by a cemetery. This one had paintings hanging on the outside, and they were of Christ carrying the cross.
There were red glasses in a lot of the graves, so we asked Florin what they were – candles. And then we asked the significance of them being red – none, they are just made in China. That was pretty great.
This church was locked, and Florin said we could wait for someone to come unlock it, or we could go ahead. We said we didn’t care either way, so he said we’d go.
Then, we went to a monastery. It was a wooden one! This one has the tallest wooden steeple in Europe. It would be the tallest in the world, except that the Guiness world records said it is disqualified because the stone foundation is too tall. Whatever. It was awesome.
It was incredible that everything is made of wood! I am constantly amazed by this. I always thought that wood would just rot and get gross, but it’s not! And then we figured it’s just covered in a sealant or something…but it’s not! You could run your hand across some of the really old parts and totally get splinters. The detail work is incredible.
We went up the stairs and explored inside. Well, there was a service going on inside, but the outside there is a balcony area (you can see it in the picture above).
Oh and there was a staircase up to the next level, which was totally just carved out of a tree trunk! However, it was scarily split down the middle…
Also, going up was hard…but going down was a lot harder!
If you are ever in Maramureş, make sure you go and visit the wooden churches!