It’s hard to find a place which is rich both above and below the Earth. Rosia Montana in Romania may be an exception to this general rule. Roşia Montană located in the Apuseni Mountains of western Transylvania, Romania is known for rich mineral resources (mainly gold and silver) which have been exploited since Roman times or before. It’s also a place with the richest heritage in Romania, with a patrimony that includes 53 monuments (50 elements from the cultural heritage and 3 elements from the natural heritage) officially declared and more recognized by the experts but still unclassified. Still, Roşia Montană is not on the UNESCO World Heritage list! Do you know the reason?
Roşia Montană is under the protection of the national legal system and was declared as the rural area with the richest heritage in Romania. The cultural heritage of Roşia Montană was declared as being of national interest and national exceptional value; seven of the patrimony elements were declared monuments of national and universal value. Roşia Montană has 6 archaeological sites from the Roman period, 43 architectural monuments and ensembles and one funerary monument. Roşia Montană’s architectural monuments belonging to XVIII-XX century include Historical Center, two churches, a railway station and 39 buildings.
Despite such rich heritage background the place is neither a well known tourist spot nor a World Heritage Site. It is partly to do with the inaccessibility of the location and the mining/industrial activity in the area. In fact, Romania had sent file for the inclusion of Rosia Montana on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2017. However, in 2018, UNESCO deferred inclusion of Roșia Montană in World Heritage List after Romania’s request. The Government motivated that Rosia Montana’s inclusion on UNESCO’s list would negatively impact Romania’s ongoing lawsuit with Canadian group Gabriel Resources. The Canadian group is asking for USD 4.4 billion damages after the Romanian authorities decided to stop their gold mining project at Rosia Montana.
Now, once again efforts are being made to resume the procedure for including the Rosia Montana site on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
There is increasing public outcry to include the site in UNESCO list. When Romania had withdrawn its inclusion in the List, public had taken to the streets protesting against the government’s move. It may be recalled here that in 2013 a gold mining project was stopped following massive street protests.