Sighetu Marmatiei, known locally as ‘Sighet’, lies 1km from the Ukranian border. The town’s reputation as a pre- World War One smuggling centre is echoed in the fact that and petrol and cigarettes are still cheaper once you have crossed a bridge into the former USSR.
Sighet has an old-fashioned feel with independent shops, cafes and a livestock market nearby on the first Monday of the month. It is also home to the Winter Customs Festival on 27th December which is a colourful example of the combined influence of paganism and Christianity. There are lots of places to eat (including giant pizzas at our favourite – Casa Veche), as well as busy bars and a few clubs tucked away.
Places to see:
Sighet Prison Museum reveals conditions for communist opposition under Ceausescu’s rein. Some of the people who used to run the prison and put the prisoners in the torture room still live and work in the town.
Maramures Ethnographic Museum – visit to see collections of wooden masks similar to those worn during the Winter Customs Festival.
Maramures Village Museum – over 30 traditional wooden houses. These are houses are like the ones you will find in Breb – built to last hundreds of years.
Jewish Cemetery – Nearly 50% of Sighetu’s population before WWII was Jewish. Elie Wiesel who used the word ‘Holocaust’ in his books to describe what happened to Jews in Poland was from Sighetu. The cemetery is worth a visit.
To see details on what to do here have a look at the page on Sighetu Marmatiei in the Maramures section. There is also the Sighet Prison Museum in the center of the town that explains the communist system for imprisoning its opposition.