Ieud, about 40km southeast of Sighet, is home to the oldest wooden church in Maramures. Ieud was first documented in 1365 but there’s evidence that the village was inhabited possibly as early as the 11th century by Balc, Dragos Voda’s grandson and later prince of Moldavia. This is old-old Maramures; century-old customs are still firmly intact in this fervently Orthodox village. Between 1787, when the first marriage was registered, and 1980 there were exactly zero divorces in the village.
In 1364 Ieud’s marvellous Unesco-status Orthodox ‘Church on the Hill’ (Biserica de Lemn din Deal) was built on castle ruins. It was built with fir-wood and had the honor of housing the first document known to be written in Romanian (1391-92), in which, appropriately enough, the catechism and church laws pertaining to Ieud were coded, with a “Charlie Brown” comic at the bottom (just kidding).
The church is usually locked, but the key is available at the porter’s house in the center of the village – look for the simple, wooden gate.
Ieud’s other church of note, Biserica de Lemn din Ses, was built in 1717 and is Greco-Catholic in denomination today. The church, at the southern end of the village has no porch which, strangely enough, makes it unique to the region. It houses one of the largest collections of icons on glass found in Maramures.
There are homes in the area with spare rooms, which can be booked through Opération Villages Roumains’ representative in Botiza, George Iurca (Tel. +40 (0) 262 334 110 or +40 (0) 722-942 140; email botizavr at sintec dot ro; address house No 742), or go straight to Vasile Chindris (Tel. +40 (0) 262 336 197; address house No 201; per person 9.50 euros, meals 6.50 euros) or Liviu Ilea (Tel. +40 (0) 262 336 039; address house No 333; per person 6 euros).