The Village of Breb
There is the saying that the most magical places are those which are hard to find. Located a couple kilometres off from the main road, which connects Baia Mare to Sighetu Marmației (through Cavnic) the village of Breb is such a place. At the base of Gutâi Mountains, hidden between the hills, Breb gathers together households where you can still find traditional wooden homes and gates, fields of orchids which look like heavenly gardens and small roads and paths which tempt you to follow them and step into another world.
This world came into existence in 1360 when the village first appeared in records under the name Villa Olaharis or Hadpatakfalva which means the village of the creek with beavers. The village got its actual name – Breb – only in 1715 and it comes from the animal with the same name, beaver (breb or castor in Romanian), who once populated the valleys.
Even though there are only about 380 families which call Breb their home, the village is a wide settlement and you will enjoy getting lost on its paths or in local’s gardens. There is always someone willing to talk to you and invite you in for a drink and meanwhile show you his or her family’s heritage or gladly give you directions on how to reach the places or people in the village that make us proud. And so, between a story and a glass of horinca , you can easily get to the houses of traditional craftsmen who carry on the ancient art of wood carving and basket weaving or of hardworking women who have not forgotten how to skilfully weave, sew and embroider true works of craftsmanship.
You can explore the village through charming paths. Start on the lower side of Breb, see the old wooden church, of Archangels, from the XVI century and walk along the main river of the village, called Breboaia, to discover the path which takes you to the Jewish cemetery. From there if you cross through beautiful gardens you end up near the new church, of Holy Trinity, built in 1981. If you continue on the main road, further up you can see Prince Charles’ old houses which have been restored by the Mihai Eminescu Trust that he patronized until recently. The prince saw his houses in 2004 when he visited Breb. The road easily takes you to the upper side of the village via impressive examples of traditional and modern households. You are the one to decide if you follow the road as it goes out from the village into the fields and then, into the mountains which we call Creasta Cocoșului (The Cockerel’s Comb) or just turn back, along Valea Caselor creek, into the centre of the village where are the mill and the traditional wash machine. Both paths are amazing. If the weather is nice you can walk or why not, cycle to the other valleys, Mara or Cosău, because Breb is located right in the middle, and there you can discover more beautiful landscapes and hardworking people.
Hidden, but not so far away that the modern world, including the internet could not reach here, the village of Breb is still a unique universe, with people from a different time who take their role as the keepers of the tradition of Maramureș hospitality very seriously and continue to be a source of inspiration for anyone who opens their gate.