The valley covers a length of 40 kilometers. Along this distance there are the villages of Mara, Desesti, Harnicesti, Sat Sugatag, Giulesti, Berbesti and Vadu Izei, where the Mara River flows into the Iza. The scenery along the valley is enchanting as are many of the villages.
This village is 20 kilometers away from Vadu Izei by National Road 18. The oldest document mentioning this settlement is from 1360.
Desesti has a fine example of the traditional Maramures wooden church. It was built in 1770 and named “The Pious Paraschiva.” The interior was painted by Radu from Ungureni and Gheorghe Zugravul, “The Painter” in 1780. The paintings were some of the finest ever done in Maramures. These paintings were restored in the mid 1990’s. The church also contains an excellent collection of painted icons from the nineteenth century on both wood and glass.
Giulesti is 12 kilometers away from Vadu Izei. Two stone churches were erected in the village, the first in 1509 and the last one was built later, in 1888.
Manastirea is a small village next to and governed by Giulesti. An old wooden church built on the site of a monastery can be found here. The ancient church bell, still true, was forged in 1679. The church was painted in 1783. It also has a collection of many beautiful glass and wooden icons. Unique to this wooden church is the painting found on one of its exterior walls similar to the painted monasteries in Bucovina.
The village is 16 kilometers from Vadu Izei. Harnicesti, which dates back to 1316, has a beautiful wooden church in the Maramuresan style. The church was built in 1770 on the site of an old monastery named for the birth of the Holy Virgin.
It has a spectacular collection of icons. Three of these icons, “Intrarea In Jerusalim” (“Arriving in Jerusalem”), “Inaltarea Domnului la Cer” (“The Ascension”) and “Buna Vestire” (“The Annunciation”) have been shown extensively in exhibitions throughout Romania and abroad.