©Sighet Memorial (copyright: creative commons)
Built in 1897 it was mainly a prison for criminal offenders, yet starting with 1948, after the settlement of the communist social and political organization, it has evolved into a prison dedicated to those who opposed the regime.
Sighet imprisoned journalists, politicians, military officers, academics, etc. hoping therefore to establish order and discipline into the country, preserving a non-venal mentality.
It has long since remained a place of woe and bitterness, being often mentioned in commemorations and linkages to the communist regime, now visited for evocative purposes.
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On May 5th and 6th of 1950 over one hundred high ranked persons were brought to the Penitentiary, sentenced to heavy punishments, however most were held without any form of trial.
Priests, authors, politicians, professors, economists, historians, etc. made their way through the doors of the Sighet Prison.
The Centre was founded 3 years after the Revolution by the Civic Academy Foundation and it is an institute of research, museography and education.
The restoration of the prison building was completed in 2000.
Each prison cell is a museum room.
The Wooden Churches of Maramures
Maramures is truly a “wood civilization” and nowhere is that more visible than in its wooden churches. Piercing the sky with their tall, pointy steeples, these monuments are the expression of a community that lives in harmony with nature.
The Merry Cemetery
If you want to truly understand the psyche of the inhabitants of Maramures, a visit to the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, nearby the city of Sighetu Marmatiei, is a must do. The brightly painted (many in sky blue) crosses and tombstones of the cemetery usually depict a significant scene from the life of the person buried in the grave, along with a few verses, that are often humorous and tongue-in-cheek. The tradition of the merry tombstones was started by local sculptor Stan Ioan Patras, in 1936. Patras created over 700 tombstones until his death in 1977, and the tradition was carried on by his disciple.