In a fairy tale-like natural landscape at the foot of the Gutâi Mountains between gently sloping hills, Baia Mare has transformed from a mining center into a modern and dynamic city with a core of medieval architecture of uncanny beauty. Take a stroll down the stylish alleys of the historical center and admire the Tower of Ștephen, the symbol of the city; or let your feet take you through Libertății Square, a true cultural and historical oasis of the city on the Săsar River.
Let yourself be captivated by the amazing mine crystals found in the only Museum of Mineralogy in Romania or start discovering the mythical Maramureş and the civilization of wood by visiting the Ethnographic and Traditional Arts Museum.
Baia Mare, the capital of Maramureş county, is situated in the north-west of Romania, near the border with Hungary and Ukraine, about 600 km from Bucharest. Its positioning at the foot of the Gutâi volcanic mountains made the region known from ancient times for its underground treasures (gold, silver, copper, lead etc.)
Actually, the “Baia” in the city’s name means „mine”. First mentioned in documents in 1328 as a prosperous mining city, Baia Mare had its economic destiny tightly bound to this activity, regardless if it was part of old Dacia, the Hungarian Kingdom, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Romania.
The city’s modern look (with a population of over 120,000) started taking form in the beginning of the 1970’s, while still preserving aspects of its medieval past. The fact that this city is constantly reinventing itself and yearns to break out of post-industrial inertia that many cities with a similar history got stuck in, is proven by its success in qualifying as a finalist in the competition for Cultural Capital of Europe 2021.
When you first arrive in Baia Mare it’s best to start exploring it from Libertații Square. At a single glance you will spot numerous old buildings with Baroque and Gothic architecture. Casa Elisabeta, recently restored, is one of the oldest of these buildings, built in 1440 and named after the wife of John Hunyadi (Iancu de Hunedoara).
Don’t be afraid to get lost in the small streets of the historical centre, as you will discover many gorgeous medieval buildings at every step. Also in the centre you can have a cup of coffee and a meal at one of the many terraces and restaurants.
But the pièce de résistance of the historic centre is the Stephen Tower, the symbol of Baia Mare. The current bell tower, over 600 years old and over 40 meters tall, was once part of an old church.
Izvoarelor Square is another place worth visiting, where you will find the Butcher’s Tower and the Munitions Tower, the last of the seven defence towers of the city still standing. If you are a history, culture or art fan, Baia Mare will not disappoint you with museums like the Art Museum or the Museum of History and Archaeology.
If you cross the Săsar River and proceed in the direction of Flowers (Florilor) Hill, don’t hesitate to visit the Ethnographic and Traditional Arts Museum, where you can admire not only the many traditionally wooden houses from Maramureş, but also other beautiful architecture from the households and the church.
The most interesting museum of the city is the Mineralogy Museum, unique in Romania, where you can step into the world of rock formations, minerals and beautiful crystals. Over 16,000 exhibits will delight your eyes and help you better understand the history of these mining regions.
Also in Baia Mare you can visit the first Planetarium in the country, where the modern and interactive equipment will help you immerse yourself into the fascinating world of astronomy.
At the northern end of the city, at the foot of the mountains lies the Arboretul de Castan Nature Reserve spanning approximately 500 hectares. The Chestnut tree is the city’s emblem and has its own festival dedicated to it, The Chestnut Festival which takes place every year on the last weekend of September.
So don’t hesitate to plan an escapade to Baia Mare, from where you can easily start your exploration of other cultural and nature destinations of Maramureș.
- For a great panoramic view of the city and its surroundings climb the Stephen Tower.
- You can get to Baia Mare via European Route E58 and the national road DN1C respectively. The train station offers both internal and international rides, with a daily route from Baia Mare to Budapest.
- Baia Mare has an international airport, the Maramureș International Airport.
- The tourist Information Center is situated in the Maramureş County Council’s building, at 46 Gheorghe Şincai Street, in room 20, on the ground floor. Schedule: Monday-Thursday 09:00-16:00, Friday 8:00-19:00, Saturday 9:00-13:00.
- The Post Office can be found at 1 Traian Blvd. Schedule: Monday-Friday 8:00-19:00, Saturday 9:00-13:00
- The city has multiple and well equipped shops for renting bikes, one of which can be found at 3 Victoriei Street.