The Horse & Animal Market at Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania

Home » Romania » The Horse & Animal Market at Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania

This post may contain affiliate links.

Living in Breb, Maramures County Romania, we visited the monthly animal and horse market at Sighetu Marmatiei more than once. It was quite a thing to see but not without drawbacks.

This isn’t a post for vegans. Animals and livestock are vital for human survival in this part of the world and market day can be brutal. Living here, seeing lambs and kids born to be eaten within weeks at Easter pushed me to veganism, but it’s just the way it is. People have to survive and that means meat and farming, harsh winters have shaped the way of life here. It is as it has been for generations.

For the villagers of northern Romania survival also means horses. You’ll find more horses and carts around the villages here than you do tractors and tractors outnumber cars.

Horses pull carts in summer, sleighs on roads thickly coated with ice and snow in the winter months. I don’t know of anywhere else in the world where you’d still see horses and sleighs being used because they are best suited to the conditions.

The horses and carts transport manure to the fields and sun-dried hay back to barns for hungry cows. They also bring trees down from the forests ( where you’ll still find bears, wolves and lynx if you’re lucky) for building and winter burning.

Without wood these people would die. Without horses they couldn’t get wood. It’s just the way it is. A post today on the horse and animal market in Sighetu Marmatiei. Sighet, as we call it, is our nearest big town and this big market is held once a month, our local farmer’s market in Ocna Sugatag is weekly.

Despite my vegan tendencies, I still make almost weekly visits to our local market in Ocna Sugatag and occasionally, to the monthly animal market in Sighetu Marmatiei. In spring the market is full of lambs, kids, piglets and calves. There are always horses. The horses arrive with gypsy traders and local farmers and wait to be picked for testing.

Horse market sighetu marmatiei
A beautiful pair of horses with cart. The lump of concrete behind is used to test their strength.

You will find huge blocks of concrete and unimaginably large tree trunks littering the market ground. You wouldn’t believe what these enormous, thickly muscled beasts can pull when they’re chained and whipped.

Last winter a horse pulled our 2 ton truck up an icy hill, that was impressive, but to see them being whipped to shift concrete blocks for show isn’t great. But on with the photos.

Here is Sighetu Marmatiei market for those of you who will never make it to this incredible corner of the world. If anyone wants to condemn these farmers,  think if you could survive here through harsh winter months being fully vegan and without wood or warm clothes and blankets.

Goats child Maramures Sighetu Marmatiei Romania
” We’ll take this one.” Kid with kid.

Generally farm animals and horses here are treated well, far better than in the factory farms of the west. This morning I noticed one old farmer letting a calf suck his fingers as she waited to be sold.

Our neighbour has a goat and two pigs that free-range and get treated like naughty children. Chickens are the plumpest and healthiest I’ve ever seen and roam the meadows freely. Many animals have decent lives here, but there is inevitable suffering too.

 spring lambs romania maramures market for easter
A lamb in a bag waiting to be sold with his mother. He seemed pretty happy in there.

I was warned off taking photos of the horse trials this morning by a gypsy trader, but I have a few from last year that  I’ve never shared. Maybe I will one day. The market is held on the first Monday of every month. Get there in the morning.

big pig farmer's market romania
Nothing to see here, just a guy with an enormous pig on a leash.
piglet sighetu marmatie marketi
A piglet going home with his new owner ,to be fattened for slaughter at Christmas.
romanian street food mici

There’s always a bit of a party atmosphere at the markets with drinks flowing and Romanian street food on the grill. Time for a mid morning snack. Mici , skinless Romanian sausages, with mustard and country bread. No beer for us this morning.

alcoholic drinks romania maramures sighetu market
Never too early for a drink in Romania.
musical instrument maramures romania
This guy could get a great traditional tune out of what seemed to be a bit of drainpipe and copper piping. Seriously impressive.
traditional maramures hat romania
The traditional Maramures men’s summer hat. The masculine equivalent of the ubiquitous headscarf, is far from rare.
tuica for sale
Time for a proper drink, a glass of home-made tuica.
romanian lamb
A final gratuitous lamb shot, just because they’re cute.

We’ve been hanging out in Romania for a couple of years now. We came by chance and fell in love. If you want to read more about travel in Romania and life in the village, head back to our Romania Travel Blog. Could you pin this post please?

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

8 thoughts on “The Horse & Animal Market at Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania”

  1. Thank you Alyson (Fellow Traveller)
    I too make the trip once a year, Durham to Dorohoi (Humanitarian Aid)
    These trip’s have been going on for the last 21 year’s, I’ve got to know Romania quite well and also the people.

  2. Hello Alyson,
    thanks for your great blog.
    I am planning to come to Maramures, this Christmas/New year, and I would like to know if the animal market in Sighetu will be open , and on which day.
    I read it’s on the first monday of every month, that is the first of January 2018.
    Do you know if it will be open on that day please?
    Also, are there other animal markets in the area, and are they usually open in winter?
    For example, in Ocna Sugatag, on thursdays…
    Your help would be much appreciated!
    Thank you Chiara

    • Yes they’re open Chiara, but it will be very, very cold. Expect about -20C at night, maybe around -8C during the day. The roads should be clear but the side road down to Sighetu Market isn’t tarmaced ancd could be covered in ice/snow.

  3. Hi Alyson,

    I like the new format just as much as I liked the previous…not much help, sorry! The pictures are great!
    Can’t wait to read about Egypt. I was once there but only for 2 days and I really hope to go back when the kids are older.
    Have fun!

  4. Great timing! We are still planning our trip. One of my kids wants to go to Egypt, so now I’ll be able to read one of your awesome blog posts for tips. Thanks 🙂

  5. Do you have safety concerns with Egypt ? I’d love to take my family but government advice against it

    • No, or we wouldn’t be going Stu. I think it’s only Sharm that still has warnings in place and we’re only going for the history. Should be fine. We have friends on the ground too, people who’ve lived there for years, so no, not worried.

  6. Wow, Egypt, is one of my bucket list trips. I can’t wait to hear about your adventure there!


Leave a comment