Let's travel together #97 - Memorialul Durerii Sighetu Marmației (The Pain Memorial)

gabrielatravels
GabrielaTravels @gabrielatravels4 months ago | 6 min read

When I travel to new places, I never have expectations because I just let the place itself make me feel what it has to share with its tourists.
But this time it was different. It was a completely new experience and it's the first time since I travel, that I got more negative feelings than positive ones.
I had to fight with sadness, agony, pain, helplessness and HATE.

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The Pain Memorial, also known as The Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance, is located in Sighetu Marmației which is still on the realm of the beautiful Maramureș County.
Even if we got used having only awesome places to visit in this part of Romania, this is also a very visited touristic destination but this time is going to be more touching than any other story shared before.
The Pain Memorial represents today a museum and an international centre of studies about communism, located right into the former political prison.
The reason of the memorial's existence is to reconstitute and keep alive the memories of some nations, especially the Romanian one, which for half of a century had to live with a false history, most of them being tortured without being guilty.
The Sighet Prison was built in 1897 and it represented an ordinary prison jail, until 1948 when it started being used as a place of detention for students, children and peasantry.
Just 2 years later, have been brought over 100 officials across the country (politicians, academics, former ministers, historians, economists, journalists, soldiers) - most of them being convicted with heavy punishments or not even judged.
The prisoners had to fight with horrible living conditions and rough punishments if they did not follow the rules. It was forbidden to lay down the bed from their cells during the day even if those were already cold. The food was served in miserable conditions but they were not allowed to be visited or get food from their families.
Yet another rule they were bound to respect was to not look out the window, otherwise, they would be locked in detention barracks (black cells with no source of light and close walls). Because people couldn't stay away from watching out the window and not even the punishments won't take their only chance of freedom, the windows started being covered and leave only a small space from where they could see just the sky.
In 1955 the number raised to over 200 prisoners, from which 54 already died. In the same year, the prison regained the position of a common jail, and the only reasons why prisoners were taking a break from their cells was the way to the psychiatric hospital from the county - because most of them were losing their minds from the first days spent in this place.

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In 1993, Ana Blandiana presented a project to the Council of Europe through which she was requiring to turn the prison into a Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance. That's how in 1994, The Civic Academy Foundation took over the ruins of the former prison and started the process of turning it into a Memorial after it was declared by CE an ensemble of national interest.
In 1998, The Pain Memorial was nominated in Top 3 Cultivation Places of the European Memory, together with the Memorial from Auschwitz and The Peace Memorial from Normandia.
Because the one-century old building was almost ruined and full of dampness, it was needed to repair the entire foundations, the roof and the interior walls, which made the rehabilitation works last a few years, until 2000.
Every single cell became a museum room, being equipped with personal objects, photos and real documents to those who lived... and died, there.

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At the decoration of tens of museum rooms, attended around 50 architects and artists who turned every single cell into a masterpiece, adding scientific art even though are sharing lots of pain and suffer once you find out how thousands of people died being without defence against violence and the absolute evil.
One of the most impressive and important sculptures is the triptych "Requiem" - by Victor Cupșa, which is dedicated to all the victims of communism from all over the world. The piece of work can be found in the reception hall.

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Two more impressive sculptures created by the artists of the museum:

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In 1997, into the inner courtyard of the memorial, it was built a Space for Silence and Praying.
The whole place represents the existence of high walls where have been engraved around 8.000 names of the people who died into the prisons, bearings and places of deportation from Romania.
The operation of collecting the names needed tens of years of studies inside of the International Center of Studies about Communism.

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One last component of The Pain Memorial is Cimitirul Saracilor (EN: Cemetery of the Poor), located on 2,5 km away from the memorial which represents the place where have been buried in secret the 54 dead people from the political prison.
This place has been created in 1999, in the memory of the sacrifices made by those victims, and it covers a total surface of 14.500 m.p., the cemetery having the shape of the country.
The whole shape have been surrounded by lots of juniper trees and fir trees, which by time will become a vegetal amphitheater, within which the shape of the cemetery will remain like a meadow.
The main meaning is to make people understand that Romania didn't forget about all these victims and every single day it's crying for them while embracing their bodies.

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The address of The Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance is Str. Corneliu Coposu 4, Sighetu Marmației, Maramures, 435500

The schedule of the memorial:
(16 Octombrie - 14 April)
Monday - CLOSED
Tuesday - Sunday - 9.30 AM - 4.30 PM
(15 April - 15 October)
Monday - Sunday - 9.30 AM - 6.30 PM

Price of tickets:

  • Children/Students - 4 RON (0.83 EUR)
  • Retirees - 5 RON (1.05 EUR)
  • Adults - 10 RON (2.10 EUR)
  • Photo Fee - 5 RON (1.05 EUR)
  • Video Fee - 15 RON (3.15 EUR)
  • Journalists/People with disabilities/Former detainees and political deportees - FREE

NOTE!: To also visit the Cemetery of the Poor you DON'T need to pay for another ticket! You can enter by using the same one.

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SEE YOU IN THE NEXT TRIP! 🗾

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Written by:
gabrielatravels

Travel addict. Video creator. Never in the same place. Wanderlust. Mountain girl. Storyteller. Travel blogger.

It is incredible to me how we as humans have such an amazing capability for love and compassion, but also for destruction and harm. I hope places like this remind us to never create similar happenings in the future. I hope we learn lessons from it. But, as positive as a person I am it is sad to say, I don't think we are learning the lessons of the past as we keep making the same mistakes over and over.

Hopefully, our generations and generations after us can make a shift for the better. Hopefully, they will learn the lessons and don't let things like this happen again.

Thank you for sharing your visit with us, have an amazing day. :)

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Yes..exactly! It's like two different things which are opposite of each other and are happening at the same time. And there must be something wrong somewhere.
Unfortunately, as bad as it used to be then...the reality from now doesn't seem to be any better. And it's sad to say that I really have no hope things will improve..not too soon. :(

Thanks for stopping by and taking time to read the post..Have a great Sunday, too! :)

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great shots and write up a very powerful and touching post

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ackhoo
ac khoo @ackhoo4 months ago

I must admit, I would give this a miss... :(
I know pain and suffering is part and parcel of life and the world, but I like to believe there's so much of it already, I would prefer to be happy when I travel... But I do take my hat off to you and others who brave these places of hardship.

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I do prefer the same thing when I'm traveling.. but I couldn't just walk away from this place..I had to visit it and make it a special post on my blog..thanks for your appreciation! It means a lot to me :)

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ackhoo
ac khoo @ackhoo4 months ago

Yes, I do understand...
The other place which is nearer to me, which I avoided is Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam...

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I did not know of that Memorial before thanks for sharing. In regards to what you wrote and what seems to be this Memorial is definitely one of the largest and saddest memorials in Europe. That's more than comprehensible what you wrote in your first paragraph we travel also to see something like that and to learn. Read of people had to go to a psychiatric hospital after being in that prison is hard to comprehend. Remind me when I was in KGB museum in Vilnius Lithuania.

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Thanks for taking the time to read the story of this place. It's really very touching and it worth a lot especially for its past. It's sad to read the stories of those who died there and what they have been through but hopefully, the future is going to be brighter...

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You're welcome! I hope the future will be more positive with no more tragedies like that anymore.

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Really interesting location and museum - glad you put this article together so we can call see it.

Particularly like those hallway photos with the vanishing point perspective

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Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it :)

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I can imagine this being a very eerie and emotional place to be in. Where so many people went to and basically treated so badly. No wonder some were admitted to psychiatric hospitals within days without seeing any sunlight. Can't imagine it.

Great write up and thanks for sharing with us

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I can't imagine myself not see the light more than a few hours! It literally takes away a part of your soul.
It's just too cruel..

Thanks for stopping by, as always ❤️

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