Ocna Şugatag commune
According to 2011 census, Ocna Şugatag has 3853 inhabitants, fewer than 2002, at the previous census, when there were 4207.
The majority of them are Romanian (85,91%). There are also Hungarian (7,79%) and Rroma (Gypsies) (2,1%). About 3,92% of the population didn’t declare their ethnic origins.
Religion wise, the majority is Orthodox (71,22%), but there are also communities of Greek – Catholics (9,29%), Catholics (9,08%), Jehovah’s Witnesses (3,17%) and Baptists (1,53%). About 4,1% of population didn’t declare their Religion.
The locality of Ocna Şugatag was first mentioned in 1355 and the other surrounding villages, Breb, Hoteni, Şugatag-Village were first mentioned in 1360, in documents related to salt or mining. An official document of 1355 stated the existence of a road near Giulesti that lead to the salt mines, where the local people came to get salt. Historical documents and archaeological finds shows that the local population was using this salt from ancient times.
At the end of XIVth century a permanent salt mining activity begins, organized by „The Royal Chamber of Salt”. In 1489 the salt mines named Paul Silvestru, Ana-Iuliana and Elisabeta were mentioned in documents and they were a part of the Royal Domain.
Actual mines of salt appeared in 1777. Due to the expansion of salt orr mining, the Austrian State brought to Ocna Şugatag German, Polish, Hungarian and Czech miners. The mining activity is pointed in several documents from the period 1799-1822. Thus, the Bogdan salt pit was active between 1822-1853, Mihai salt pit (where the salt was cleaner) was active in the same period, and from 1921, Dragoş salt pit was active, too. In 1896 in Ocna Şugatag there were 3 salt mines.
In 1950, due to massive floods of fresh water, the salt mines were closed, and on their places salt lakes appeared.
Also, in the surroundings of Ocna Şugatag there is a beautiful forest in surface of 44 hectares, named Pădurea Crăiasa. Here one can see the most impressive gorun oak trees that exists in our country – from the under specie of Ronișoara Oak, and also, beautiful larch trees.
The village was first mentioned in official documents under this name in the year 1715. Previously, on the 20th of March, 1360, it was mentioned under the name of Vallis Olahalis or Hodpataka, that stands for „the village crossed by a brook surrounded by „brebs”’ –„‚breb” was a European animal related to American beaver.
Breb is situated at 25 km from Sighetu Marmatiei and 52 km from Baia Mare, Maramureș County centre. It is in the central northern part of Maramureș, on Mara River, and on the North of Gutâi mountain.
From the administrative point of view, Breb is a part of the larger village of Ocna Şugatag, together with Hoteni and Şugatag Village. Breb is widely spanned over the surrounding hills and valleys and it is bordered by Budeşti, Sârbi, Ocna Şugatag, Hoteni, Mara, and, more remote, Şurdeşti (in Chioarul area).
Breb spans over 3490 hectares (8795 acres) of land and there are a lot of streams, springs and brooks crossing it. The names of the more important ones are: Breboaia Valley, Valea Mare, Sunătoare Valley and Valea Caselor. The views are quite astonishing because of the hills, the rich vegetation and the large variety of wild flowers.
Since 1715 the village is known under its current name Breb. While at the beginning it was scarcely inhabited, it get bigger and bigger. Around 1600, there were as many as 180-200 inhabitants and at the beginning of the XIXth century population raise to about 700 souls.
In 1912, there were in Breb 1670 inhabitants, Romanian and some Jews. In 1930, the population was composed by 1530 Romanians, 159 Jews and a Russian. In what concerns Religious beliefs, in the same year 1930, Breb had 1526 – the majority, Greek Catholics, 159 mosaics, 3 Orthodox and 2 Baptists. In the village there are important institutions of historical value: the wooden church, probably built in 1531, with major changes in the 18th-19th centuries and the former Greek-Catholic confessional school.
Vasile Chira, philosopher, theologian, play righter, essayist, poetry and prose author.
Sat-Şugatag is an old settlement of the historic Maramureş, on Mara river’s valley, first mentioned in a document in March 1360, that re-enforced the claim to his lands for Dragoş from Giuleşti. The wooden church dedicated to „Saint Paraschiva” was built in oak wood in 1642, on the foundation of another old church. It was painted much later, probably in 1753, as it is written on the narthex by a contemporary priest named John.
The church is a typical one for wooden churches of Maramureş. It has all the characteristic features: double eaves in the roof of the nave and narthex, the tower with a pavilion that exceeds the tower’s edges and the roof crest prolonged on eight sides. On the middle of church’s walls, on the outside and also on the door frame there is a classic ornament made in wood called “twisted rope”, specific to the art popular objects in wood.
The wooden frame of the doors of theses churches made in wood are similar to the frames made in stone in the getic period. The verticality of the tower’s silhouette, the general proportions of the church, together with the frames mentioned earlier, they all stand for the aesthetic specificity that distinguishes the civilization of wood art in Maramureş. Inside the church we can see the nave door frame , which is richly decorated, and the unique doors of the iconostasis. The Historical Monuments Department renovated the church in 1969-1970 and a local team of craftsmen changed the shingles roof made of oak shingles in 1994.
Tit Bud (1846-1917):
• priest and popular art collector;
• Vice-president of ASTRA Society of Maramureş for three decades, (1887-1917);
• Vice-president of The Association for Romanian People’s Culture of Maramureş.
From his work: Folk poetry of Maramureş (published in 1908).
In the past three centuries, there were known to be three successive wooden churches in Hoteni. From those, the last two ones were brought from other villages, because Hoteni was a village that didn’t have forests on its borders, so the village didn’t have the means to build churches. The inhabitants of Hoteni were serfs until the middle of the 19th century. Bringing a wooden church from a noble village had several advantages: the church was a lot less expensive, its quality was better, like in the neighbouring villages, and the church was bigger than the previous one.
There is a brief description of the older church, from 1751, when the bishop of Muncaci, Manuel Mihail Olsavszky, paid a visit. It was a wooden church, covered in shingles, it had a tower with a bell and had icons and a lot of objects of cult. From the document of the visit, we learn that the church was blessed by the bishop of Maramureş, Dositei Teodorovici (1718-1733). We also know from those notes, that the pall was sanctified by the bishop of Muncaci, Gennady Bizanczy (1716-1733).
The real age of this church is lost in time.
The inhabitants of Hoteni received the second wooden church from the village of Budeşti, from where it was brought on horse-drawn sleighs. This church was not original from Budeşti. It came from Susani, from the village part named Vințești. In 1751, the documents described it as ancient and almost in ruins.
After 1751, but before 1760, the old church from Vințești was replaced by a new wooden church, which is preserved until today and it is known as the wooden church of Budești Susani. The age of the old church can be suggested by the inscription on royal doors of the wooden church of Budești Susani, dated 1628.
The transfer of the church in Hoteni took place after the construction of the new one in Budesti Susani.
The wooden church was restored in Hoteni, where it served as a prayer church until about 1895.