Europe’s Thriving Peasants – Botiza, Romania

A church bell sings. Birds chatter, a buzzing bee, a cowbell clanging. It’s a pleasure reserved for the countryside – really, just a single, beautiful bell across the valley.

Botiza village from a nearby hill.

In Botiza  – and across the Maramures – Europe’s last peasant communities still thrive.

Living as Europeans once did, 100-200-300 years ago. Today, fields are cropped with scythes, hay gathered with wooden pitchforks, and village transport is largely horse and cart.

Across Maramures there are 100s churches with these typical towers. This one was built in 1694.

Seemingly, the only modern vehicles moving are occasional domestic tourists on a weekend cruise of the countryside, stopping for 10 minutes to check-out the church, and then go.

One such visitor got out of her car as I was sitting at the outdoor table of the village shop, having a beer. She asked me in Romanian for directions. But was dumbfounded to encounter a foreigner. Yet I gave her directions, anyway, pointing – “Just go straight”.

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Locals of Botiza

In fact, this how I got to Botiza.


I had hitchhiked with a young couple on weekend drive from Bucharest.

He was very chatty, his cute GF quiet. He spoke Romanian and Spanish, as he’d worked some years in Spain. And I fumbled to remember enough Spanish from years ago in Latin America; but we managed on a simple level.

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Botiza, and in fact the entire region, is a very religious community; Sunday church is a big social occasion, lasting well into the afternoon.

Transport is rare in this region.

Maybe, one mini-bus daily – in and out – going 30 km to the next major town.

Earlier in the day, I’d visited a monastery. But then, sat  for ages on a road without public transport. However, the first ride – that young couple – took me all the way to Botiza (lucky, since it was well off the main route).

And it was also this couple, who found me a local home-stay, before continuing their trip.

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Traditional houses in the region have huge, ornately carved gates, with shingle roof. Carvings include: suns, wolves teeth and coils of rope for protection of the family

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