Sighetu Marmatiei lies on the confluence of the Tisa, Iza and Ronisoara Rivers. It’s the northernmost town in Romania and good staging area for Maramures exploration. From here it’s just a few sparse villages and then the Ukrainian border. Its name is derived from the Thracian and Dacian word seget, meaning ‘fortress’.
Sighet (as it is known locally and by savvy tourists) is famed for its vibrant Winter Festival (27 December), featuring food, music and a parade of colorful peasant costumes, masks and oxen carrying baked cakes between their horns!
Sighet has several churches worth visiting and tired museums, the exception being the Museum of Arrested Thought (Muzeu al Gândirii Arestate), a former maximum-security prison and now a sobering and informative highlight of any visit to northern Romania. The Village Museum just outside of town provides a good half day of wandering through its wooden dwellings, cobbled pathways and mini-villages.
This is a good base for visiting the Merry Cemetery and some of the wooden churches in the area.
The long awaited official border crossing north of Sighet into Ukraine finally opened in February 2007.