Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Folk Culture Destinations # 1 - Ieud, Romania

This small village is located in the centre of Maramures in northern Romania, a region renowned for its well-preserved folk culture, architecture and way of life. Much of Maramures could be considered a giant folk culture museum, a place where many rural villages seem barely touched by the 20th century. Many villagers live in traditional wooden houses without toilets or running water, and even electricity is a fairly recent addition. Locals rise early in the morning and go out to work in the fields by hand, and transporting goods or travelling to visit neighbours is done by horse and cart.
Cars can be seen on all the roads in Maramures, but in the most remote villages where the roads are rough the most common means of transport is by horse-drawn wagon. Ieud has a small outdoor museum of folk culture which was opened a few years ago to encourage tourists to visit. Locals dressed in traditional costumes can demonstrate how to use farming equipment, looms and spinning wheels. No English is spoken by the guides, but this is merely part of the experience as smiles, gestures and a few basic words in Romanian are enough to be able to communicate about the exhibits.
It is quite difficult to visit Ieud without your own transport as there are no train links and no regular local buses. Hiring a car in the city of Sighetu Marmetiei is a good option, or it is also possible to hitch-hike. If hitching, be prepared to pay the driver a few Lei for the ride.

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