Having a total surface of around 1500 sq km, Maramureş Mountains Natural Park is the largest protected territory in the Romanian Carpathians. The main reasons for preserving this remote area include widely spread natural habitats, the wood civilization born here and the presence of the flora and fauna emblematic for the Carpathians. Furthermore 70% of the park surface is part of the European Ecological Network – Natura 2000. Maramureş Mountains Natural Park is situated in the northern part of the Romania's Maramureş county, north of Viseu river, lying up to the Ukrainian border.
Maramureş Mountains Nature Park is made up of crystalline schists penetrated by eruptive and sedimentary rocks. The main morphological crest is fragmented into several massifs. This strong fragmentation of the massif separate seven mountain groups among the main tributaries of Viseu river.
The relief developed on crystalline rocks has a dominating note resulted from cupola-shaped massifs and relatively mild shape of the ridges. The most representative valleys crossing these mountains are deep in crystalline formations (Vaser, Ruscova). The structural relief is present in the north part (Copilasu, Budescu). The lime traces in the Mihailecu massif are of special interest. The volcanic relief is represented by basalts (Farcau-Mihailecu) and sub-volcanic bodies brought to surface by erosion (Toroiaga group). The periglacial relief was formed in Pleistocene, when significant portion of the soil was in permanently frozen regime. The karst morphology is represented by 32 relativelly small caves.
Sunrise over the RO/UA border
There is a multitude of small rivers and brooks. Two rivers, Vaser and Ruscova, divide the range into three main parts. These rivers form two of the most impressive valleys of the region, with spectacular steep slopes. Vaser, the most important tributary of Vişeu, is about 60 km long (see Vaser valley chapter). The valley is considered to be one of the most beautiful ones in the Eastern Carpathians, offering a succession of wonderful and unique landscapes.
The Vişeu River is one of the two main rivers that cross the Maramureş Depression from southeast to northwest. To the east of it, there are the Maramureş Mountains, while to the west, there are the gentle valleys with famous villages and characteristic wooden churches, being a UNESCO's Cultural Heritage. The valley of Tisa from Vişeu to the village of Bocicoiu Mare is so narrow that the railway is hardly able to carve out its path between the mountains and the riverbed. Nature lovers can enjoy these romantic sceneries when travelling by train especially in winter period.
Movie created by LukZem during his three visits to the Maramures Nature Park: part 1/2
Maramures Nature Park occupies about 150,000 ha, out of which 60 percent is represented by forests, 30 percent by grasslands and alpine pastures and only four percent by agricultural lands. The ecosystems are representative of the Carpathians, and include alpine and sub-alpine habitats, evergreen, mixed and broadleaved forests.The continental temperate climate supports the formation of certain types of forests. Depending on the determining factors such as climatic conditions, altitude, soil type and existing forestry vegetation, four significant vegetation zones were identified. The richness of lichen species prove that the area is not polluted so far.
Wooden church at Bârsana
Broadleaved forests in October
A rich variety of flora thrives in the hills and among the network of rivers and streams. More than a half of the total number of families within the whole Romanian flora is present on the territory of Maramureş Mountains Natural Park. There are numerous species that are very popular in the region, but there is also a significant number of flora rarities.A great number of endemic elements characteristic for the Carpathians cen be seen on the park's territory such as: Aconitum moldavicum, Campanula carpatica, Festuca carpatica, Leucanthemum waldsteinii, Pulmonaria filarszkyana. These elements formed during different phyto-historical stages and thus enhance substantially the botanic value, which makes the flora of the Maramureş Nature Park so special. On its territory have been identified 22 fish species, 8 amphibian species, 7 reptile species, 126 bird species and 41 mammal species. The avifauna is typical for the area of the beech forests, the mixed forests and mountain pastures.
Movie created by LukZem during his three visits to the Maramures Nature Park: part 2/2
There are four natural reserves in Maramureş Nature Park:
Sâlhoi Zâmbroslavele Rocks - situated in the south-easternmost part with a surface of 1 ha. The main purpose is to conserve the biodiversity on the right slope of Maguritei peak.
Cornu Nedeii Ciungii Bălăsinei - located at the southern part with a surface of 800 ha. This faunistic reserve protects the populations of Black grous (Tetrao tetrix).
Tomnatec-Sehleanu Narcissus Meadow – situated in the north-western part (Repedea locality) with a surface of 100 ha conserving the Narcissus radiiflorus, located at the highest altitude in Romania (1300m).
Farcau Peak - Vinderel Lake - Mihailecu Peak – geological, faunistical and landscape reserve, situated at the northern part with a surface area of 150 ha, conserving the natural habitats of wild flora and fauna.
Maramureş Mountains Nature Park is characterized by its rolling hills, beautiful landscapes, small lakes, thick forests of oak, beech and pine covering these remote mountains, while orchards of apple, plum and cherry trees dominate the surroundings of villages. Due to these characteristics, Maramureş Mountains Nature Park is a real „hotspot“ for a wide circle of naturalists.
Mysterious Lake Vinderel
Legendary Vinderel lake
Two glacial lakes can be found in Maramureş Mountains, the best known is Lake Vinderel, situated at the foot of the Farcău peak. It is the biggest glacial lake of this massif, sitting at a height of 1,684 m. This lake is 155 m long and 85 m wide with total surface of about 1 ha and maximum depth of 5,5m. Legend has it, that on St. Elijah's Day, maidens should walk to the lake and wash in its waters while uttering magic incantations, which will enable them to get married soon, most likely before yearend, to a good husband.