Maramureş is a fascinating place. It lies in the north of Romania, and is surrounded by forested mountains (except to its northwest). Picturesque valleys such as the Mara and Iza shelter the region’s wonderful wooden churches, most of which date from 17th and 18th centuries, and beautiful, hand-carved wooden gates. This is one of the least spoilt areas of the country, and people are drawn to it for many reasons. They include its natural setting, its fairy-tale hamlets, splendid displays of woodwork and popular costume, country festivals and ancient traditions, and the hospitable people, many of them hard-working farmers and artisans who practice the old trades of hat-making, metalwork, pottery, wood-carving and so forth.All of this makes Maramureş special – it still preserves authentic folk crafts, but what makes it more remarkable is that traditional skills are still a part of everyday life. In Maramureş what is commonly designated as ‘folklore’ belongs to living experience: people lead their lives according to rites that have been handed down from generation to generation. Here in Maramureş you may still encounter people wearing traditional farmer’s clothes, ploughing their land or grazing their sheep on an alpine meadow.