Situated only 18 km (11 miles) west of Sighetu Marmatiei, in north-western Romania, the Merry Cemetery is one of the most visited atractions in Maramures. Tourists can admire here the famous wooden crosses, carved by local artisans and painted in bright colours but mostly in the uniquely Sapanta blue, that rules over the entire cemetery.
In 1935, the local wood carver Stan Ioan Patras had the idea to make a different kind of cemetery, unique in Romania and in the world, to reflect the life and personality of the deceased in a cheerful way. His idea led to the foundation of the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. Years later, his creation has become on of the most well-known tourist attraction in Romania and brought international recognition for the village of Sapanta.
Each cross has at the top a carver image evoking a memorable moment from the deceased's life. Under the image there is a short, humorous poem, written in local dialect and in the first person, like the deceased would tell the story of his/her life, his/her profession, his/her vices, when and how he/she died.
After Stan Ioan Patras, the founder of the cemetery, died in 1977, his legacy was carried on by his apprentice, Dumitru Pop, in the same house where the master Patras completed his creations. The household where Stan Ioan Patras lived is now a museum and is located 600 meters (half a mile) away from the Merry Cemetery.
The cemetery is open to public everyday, every season, as long as natural light allows visitors to admire the famous wooden crosses.