Set on the banks of the Tisza River and guarded by the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, Săpânţa is a commune with approximately 3500 inhabitants, otherwise similar to many other villages in Maramureş, in Northern Romania.
This area is remarcable for its inhabitants’ attachment to the lands, their strong and independent spirit, strict respect for the customs and traditions of the place. The inhabitants of Sapanta respectfully observe the Orthodox religion and their old traditions. Thus, on Sundays or holidays, people wear their traditional national costumes.
The famous cemetery in Sapanta lays in the center of the commune, next to the parish church and displays eight hundred folk art monuments, making it a true and complex outdoor museum. It is famous for the brightly colored crosses of the graves, with naive paintings representing depictions from the life and occupation of the buried ones. On the crosses there are lyrics in which the respective people and their life are mentioned, often with humorous nuances.
The cemetery crosses are the work of the famous sculptor, painter and poet Ion Stan Patras. Crosses are carved from oak wood, painted and sculpted by hand. All crosses are painted on a specific blue background called “Sapanta blue” (a little different from the blue of Voroneţ). Each cross has an epitaph inlaid on it, written in short verses like those of the doina. The lyrics are simple, spontaneous and written in Maramureş dialect, and are loaded with spirit and grace. Each epitaph includes in some verses the name and the essential deeds of the one below the cross. On the cross, above the epitaph, the man is painted in vivid colors, as at an important moment in their life.
The original cemetery became well known not only for the looks and the colors of the crosses or the epitaphs carved on them, but also for the unusual joy that gets associated to the death of the men and women of this place. This is not only an inheritance from the Dacians, ancestors of the Romanian people who believed in the immortality of the soul and that death was only a transition to a better life, but also because of the Christian faith in resurrection, which is really strong in this part of Romania.
The Merry Cemetery in Săpânţa is considered a unique place by its visitors, becoming more and more known all over the world.
Together with Romania Color, you will discover our millenary traditions.