Roșia Montană

Roșia Montană
Photo by Christoph.

The Roșia Montană Mining Cultural Landscape comprises the archetypal example of Roman underground gold mining.

Archaeologists have discovered in the town of Alburnus Maior ancient dwellings, necropolises, mine galleries, mining tools, 25 wax tablets and many inscriptions in Greek and Latin. Precious metals have been extracted here since the Bronze Age and continued also from medieval to modern times.

Community Perspective: the dramatic landscape mostly stands out. Both Nan and Tsunami had difficulty in getting to the site – having a car is a clear advantage – and be aware that the village of Roșia Montană has very little tourist infrastructure. Clyde advises calling ahead to verify whether the mine is open and ready to receive English-speaking visitors.

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Els Slots

The Netherlands - 17-Apr-24 -

Roșia Montană by Els Slots

Roșia Montană has grown into something of a ‘cult site’ in the WH Community, while it seems rarely visited by ‘normal’ tourists. Several sources had suggested that if I wanted to see the underground mines from Roman times (that’s where the OUV is), I should announce my visit beforehand. It was funny to read the many Google Reviews about the erratic opening hours of the mining museum (officially Tue-Sun 9-16, mostly Tue-Fri between 9 and 14.30 but on “some days they don’t show up”). A few days before I e-mailed them in English and (Google Translated) Romanian on the address given on the official website to communicate when I planned to visit. I got a swift reply that they would be waiting for me.

Getting there proved to be easy by rental car. Just at the point that my Google Maps navigation announced “You have arrived”, I saw a sign pointing to the mining museum on the left side of the road. But that’s about it for directions – no “brown signs” and no UNESCO WH logo. At 10.30 a.m. on a rainy Wednesday morning, I found the gate to the museum compound closed and a small black dog barked its head off to this lonely visitor. The door to the right was open though and I told the man who appeared that I wanted to visit the mine.

He seemed to remember having received my e-mail, although he was still visibly concerned about how to apply the ”5 people minimum for a tour”-rule (I had already told him I would pay for 5 – entry is 20 Lei, so 5x is about 20 EUR). When that was settled (I actually got 5 tickets!), he called the guide. Some people will be sad to hear that the “very unique engineer-guide” as cherished by other community members (and labelled a xenophobic populist in Google Reviews) seems to have been replaced by a professional young guide who speaks good English.

The tour was to last about an hour and comprised three parts. The guide spoke virtually non-stop, more giving a lecture than interacting with the guest(s). We started underground. There’s a long downward flight of stairs from the communist times to tackle before you enter the part excavated by the Romans. No helmets here and no elevator! The main difference between the work of the Roman miners and those of later periods in Rosia Montana’s mining history is that the Romans worked more precisely and efficiently. Using only a hammer and chisel they did not make as wide spaces as did those who used dynamite – they did just what was needed to reach the gold veins. The entrance the Romans used to get this deep underground has been lost.

Above ground, we did a tour of the machines that are exhibited in the field next to the mine entrance – all of a later date of course, but it gives you an idea of how important gold mining stayed for this region until deep into the 20th century. The area was littered with private mines until the communist state mine company put an end to that. This field also includes the lapidarium, where Roman votive altars and gravestones are kept that were found in the surroundings. The main archeological discoveries inside the Roman mine were clay tablets describing contracts, but unfortunately, they have been scattered around the museums and universities of the former Habsburg Empire. They are likely not to be on display either because of their fragile nature.

We finished the tour in the museum, housed in one of the buildings of the former state mine company. Photos show locals searching for gold in the rivers and mining at altitude in the open cast mines. The workers also included children. No word was said during the tour about the controversial Canadian mining permits and the recent outcome of the arbitration process with Romania not having to pay them any damages. When I asked about it, the guide said that he did not know of any plans for further developing the tourism potential of the Roman mining sites around Roșia Montană.

When I left the museum building, the guide had disappeared as had the man at reception. Only the small black dog was still there and insisted on chasing me out.

Read more from Els Slots here.


Malta - 20-Dec-23 -

Roșia Montană by Clyde

I visited this WHS by car in 2023. To make sure not to miss out, this WHS requires an advance booking by calling at least a number of days before: 1) to make sure the mine is open and accessible on the day you intend to visit, 2) to make sure that a tour in English is available, 3) to make up your mind whether you want to pay for 5 guided tour tickets + the entrance fee (highly recommended to visit alone and have the guide to yourself) or if there is a particular day with other people prebooked to share costs.

I would like to point out right from the start, that not only tourist infrastructure is lacking in Rosia Montana, but almost any kind of infrastructure whatsoever. The roads to get there are the winding type, one-lane each way, and lots of slow heavy trucks, so allow enough time to get there safely without missing your booking. Most staff, including the very unique engineer-guide, speak very little English, restaurants are non-existent, all the facilities except the mine are crumbling and extremely old, and floods and landslides are very common all year round. Make sure to bring an extra jacket as the temperature is cold at Rosia Montana even in summer, and drops even more inside the mine. The engineer-guide is quite peculiar but once you get accustomed to his irony/satire and his accent, you'll definitely get an honest in-depth tour about the pros and cons of Rosia Montana as a UNESCO WHS and the pros and cons of heavy industrial mining and/or logging. The clear con is that Rosia Montana has become or is clearly becoming a ghost town and even with better funding and restoration works, most probably it will always be the least-visited WHS in Romania.

Although the highlight of this WHS is the Roman mine, the whole mining landscape around is included but not much of it is accessible, firstly because of the parts under contract/dispute with the Canadians, and secondly because most of the roads are just winding uphill walking trails. Even with a rental car, I wouldn't have gone as far as man-made disaster of Geamana. Through the ages, gold mining shaped the surrounding landscape of Rosia Montana, although this essentially meant exploiting nature so much that the whole place was doomed from a natural point of view. The only exceptions which can still be explored are the numerous mining corridors which look like "caves" as well as artificial lakes (the most scenic probably being Taul Mare or the nearby Taul Anghel). Information boards in general, but especially at these "secondary" sites are non-existant, and the only ones you'll find closer to the mine are only in Romanian (including the only one mentioning UNESCO inscription next to the ticket booth; top left photo). With a few information boards, wooden boardwalks and sign-posted walking trails (and some basic infrustructure such as toilets and at least a cafeteria), the surrounding area would be much easier to explore and appreciate and could easily be compared to the upper areas of Banska Stiavnica in Slovakia for example.  

The old diorama inside the simple museum, gives a better idea of the sheer size of the gold mining landscape before gold mining started till present times. Apparently, different artefacts found here prove that gold mining in the Rosia Montana region started well before Romans, although on a much smaller scale. Most of the golden Thracian artefacts on display in different museums in Bucharest and in Sofia most probably came from this region. The guided tour down the Roman mine explores just a mere fraction of the huge underground network of tunnels developed by the Romans. Through experience and incredible skill, the Romans followed the "veins" in the rock which they believed would yield the most gold or other precious metals, and dug further using wooden frames as supports (built by felling the surrounding forests), and impressively digging rhomboid shaped, layered, zig-zag tunnels. The guide will also show you a few tiny holes in the walls which are believed to have been filled by small oil lamps for lighting (bottom left photo). The best archaeological remains found in Rosia Montana are no longer in town and at best can be seen in several museums worldwide unless they don't form part somebody's private collection. That said, in the Rosia Montana museum there is a good collection of old photos showing how gold mining developed in much more recent history. Of the few industrial tools and artefacts on display, I particularly liked the old logs carved manually to create "stairs" (using those to descend to different parts of the labyrinth of dark mining galleries gives you an idea of how dangerous even the simplest things were). Unfortunately, the most interesting finds such as the wax tablets, are no longer in Rosia Montana (only photos of a couple of them are on display). However, there is a good collection of limestone tombstones from the necropolis, and a number of industrial machines used for gold mining, as soon as you exit the mine. Compared to other European mining sites on the WH list, I really enjoyed my visit and I think it deserves its place on the WH list to preserve it for future generations.


Japan / USA / Europe - 17-Oct-21 -

Roșia Montană by Tsunami

Romanian people are nice!

That is the first thing I would like to say, even after the several predicaments I encountered trying to get in and get out of Rosia Montana without my own transportation.  

But before I talk about Rosia Montana...

This was my 6th trip to Romania, but it happened while I'm living in its southern neighbor Bulgaria during my 2nd 3 month stay.

At this point I'm eager to finish the UK and France to finish up Europe, but due to Covid and other annoyances I couldn't make it to those countries. So I reluctantly decided to just tick off the 2 (and only 2) WHSs in Europe newly inscribed in 2021 in order to keep my European record clean (except islands and Spain and Portugal, for which I have a special plan).  After spending 4 nights in Belgium mainly to visit just one new WHS (and 5 TWHSs) I flew to Timisoara, Romania.

Getting in:


From Timisoara I took a bus to Alba Iulia. That Thursday the bus I was waiting for at the Alba Iulia Autogara was the second to the last one to Gura Rosiei (5 km west of Rosie Montana), or so I thought. According to, it was supposed to leave at 16:00, and I saw the bus coming from the Autogara cafe at 15:45. But by the time I went out to the platform at 15:50, the bus had left! WT....??? When I went to talk to an English-speaking woman at the gara, she said the bus left on time at 15:50 and the next bus was in the following late morning! This would completely mess up my plan to visit the museum in Rosia Montana on Friday, as it closes at the odd hour of 14:30 and remains closed shut until the following Tuesday. Seeing my face turning pale, the woman made a few phone calls, and what eventually happened was that I was put on a bus at the autogara that took me to another bus hub in town where the bus to Gura Rosiei that I missed earlier was waiting for me...


This bus ride from Alba Iulia to Gura Rosiei was around 2 hours. About one hour into the ride I received an email from the owners of the guesthouse in Rosia Montana I had booked for 2 nights on, saying that, gasp, they tested POSITIVE to corona that morning! My full vaccination status notwithstanding, I immediately went back onto and booked another place for 16 Euros more per night. Later, promised to refund me the difference (and they did). I was rather grateful that the owners honestly told me about their viral status than otherwise. 


By the time I arrived in Gura Rosiei at 18:00, both my phone AND my battery pack had run out of juice. I was planning to walk for 5 km from Gura Rosiei to Rosia Montana and to find the new guesthouse, for which I would love to use Google Map. Luckily a little store at Gura Rosiei was nice enough to charge my phone for about 20 min., during which I munched on an ice cream bar that I purchased at the store for reciprocation. I was thinking, if a complete stranger from a foreign country with a wheeled backpack was wandering around without phone battery in Gura Rosiei, I would say anybody would be inclined to help...


I started walking toward Rosia Montana, but of course I remembered that the Maramures region of Romania was the easiest place ever for hitchhiking. There, as soon as I raised my hand with thumb up, the first car that came by stopped and gave me a ride. So I tried to do the same here, but it was only 5th or 6th car that stopped and gave me a ride...during the pandemic. 

There are no restaurants in Rosia Montana at this time, but I had picked up some food in Alba Iulia, so I had enough to eat that night. 

Rosia Montana: 

My exploration of Rosia Montana didn't start until late morning on Friday, as the first thing I did in the morning was to go to a nearby mini store, which they call supermarket, to stock up on food for that day and the next morning. 

When I arrived at the museum a few min. before 11:00, there was a large bus with many Romanian tourists coming out, which surprised me, but the gate to the museum was closed.  Then it turned out that a guide from the museum was supposed to give a tour to all the tourists at 11:00 and opened the gate for us. I didn't make a reservation for this tour, but apparently other tourists did, and I was able to join them. The tour, which lasted for about one hour, included the entrance to the Roman underground mine (top and bottom left photos), an outdoor museum with some large mining equipment, and an indoor museum with many historic photos of mining from the area. The indoor museum can be only entered as part of this tour at this time. The guide, who spoke fluent English, conducted the tour in Romanian but gave me a brief summary in English at each point of interests. At the beginning of the tour he said the tour costs 50 Lei (about 10 Euros), but when he collected it at the end of the tour, he refused to take my 50 Lei, perhaps because he felt bad about me not getting the full explanation in English. I used this money that I saved to buy a book in English with many colorful photos called "Rosia Montana Cultural and Tourist Guidebook" at the gate to the museum area. 

In the afternoon I decided to walk around with the Guidebook. This somewhat circular WHS has the diameter of about 5 km, so it is possible to walk north-south or east-west in a little over one hour. I walked through the center of the village of Rosia Montana, which had another small museum, to Piatra Corbului (bottom center photo), which seems to be one of the most popular places to hike to in the area. It is my understanding that this rock has some trace of Roman gold-digging. You can actually hike to the top of this rock where you get a very nice view of the surrounding area, especially with Autumn foliage (bottom right photo). I later learned that there were actually 4 recommended hiking routes, and I ended up hiking on a very easy western half trail of "Natural Monuments Circuit" with the stop at the top of Piatra Corbului. 3 of the 4 routes pass by Piatra Corbului.  


Rosia Montana WHS is about the Roman mine, but if you want to see another good, old Roman stone ruin, the place to go is a village near Rosia Montana called Corna, which is within the core zone of this WHS. The ruin, called Hop Gauri, is located near Gauri Turn/Lake, which is less than 500 m away from Corna but is higher up, and is supposed to be the best preserved Roman mausoleum in Romania. (But it is not part of the Dacian Limes TWHS. The nearest Dacian Limes is at Gura Cornei, which is not within the boundary of the Rosia Montana WHS.)  To be sure, I could not find where this mausoleum was on map when I was at Rosia Montana, so I didn't attempt to go there. (The guidebook only vaguely talked about it. I should have just asked my landlord.) I only learned its exact location later. 

The Flooded Church: 

When I spoke with the locals about Rosia Montana having been just bestowed a WH status this year, they all immediately said, "in order to prevent the gold mining by the Canadian company." 

I first became aware of Rosia Montana even before knowing that it had been nominated for a WHS when I read about a village in Romania sunk under toxic waste. This village of Geamana is located about 8 km north east of Rosia Montana.  It is certainly not part of the WHS but is material to it. What happened to Geamana from the waste from the nearby cooper mine of Rosia Poieni (the size of which makes the recent gold mine in Rosia Montana look like a baby) under the direction of Ceausescu in 1977 is but one of the reasons why the Rosia Montana locals and the Romania people in general have been concerned about, or, more specifically, have been left only with choice between life and death by, the mining project of the Canadian company Gabriel Resources. (Sorry, I should stop reading James Joyce.)

Just by looking at Geamana in a Google Satellite image you can tell how bad things are even today. And the most iconic but frightening image of Geamana is this so-called Flooded Church whose spire is sticking out of the toxic waste water. This is probably the one image I was most interested in seeing in my visit to Rosia Montana, but with no car rented I was aware that I wasn't going to make it all the way to Geamana this time. 

Getting out:


My original plan was to go back to Alba Iulia by bus in the Saturday morning, for which the landlord of my guesthouse was supposed to give me a ride to Gura Rosiei at 7:50. But the night before I suddenly discovered that the bus did not run on weekend. So I revised my plan and found a bus to take in the afternoon from Gura Rosiei to Turda, which was indeed my next destination (for a non-WHS related, super salt mine called Salina Turda). So I messaged the landlord late at night saying I no longer need a ride. But when I called her at 7:30 in the morning from my bed to make sure she got my message, she said there was another bus at 8:30 from Campeni to Turda, for which her husband could give me a ride all the way to Campeni. I had not packed because I thought I could sleep in that morning, so I had 10 min. to pack with no time to even use bathroom and to jump in his car to head to Campeni. I later learned that the landlord checked the websites of individual bus companies that operate in the area to come up with more options for me, instead of using the aggregator website like 

So I got on a bus from Campeni toward Turda and got off at Buru in order to visit the TWHS of Rimetea. From Buru I hitchhiked to Rimetea and after a few hours there hitchhiked again all the way to Turda where I stayed overnight. And returned to the TWHS of Alba Iulia after Turda. I believe both TWHSs of Rimetea and Alba Iulia are worth stopping at if you are in the area. Turda also has a quite extensive Dacian Limes only a few minutes walk from the Autogara. 

So in retrospect, it wasn't all that bad. I would like to say I overcame the obstacles :) with great help from the compassionate Romanian people.

Read more from Tsunami here.


Germany - 27-Jul-21 -

Roșia Montană by Nan

With Roșia Montană scheduled for the 2020/2021 WHC, I had made it a fixture in my travel plans for Romania. Figuring out which bus connection  to take wasn't easy, but eventually I found one that would work. Plan was to arrive at 18:00h by bus from Alba Iulia, hike to my B&B, drop the luggage, get some food and finally some rest.

And then the rain came. It was at 17:30h when the road between Abrud and Campeni was closed due to flooding. It took two hours to repair the road and when I got off the bus, it was 20:00h. I still had 5km of hiking to get to town, my stomach was empty, and, how could I forget, the road leading to Roșia Montană was also flooded. To add insult to injury, I had sprained my ankle in the morning in Sighisoara; Romanian roads and sidewalks are full of potholes. A strenuous hike with luggage up a flooded road at nightfall was just what the doctor ordered.

In addition, google maps in Romania provides some rather unconventional directions. With nightfall 30min away, I was stuck in the hills of Roșia Montană looking for a trail that just wasn't there.

Side note 1: Follow the car road if hiking.

Side note 2: The "car" road may still be more a trail than a road.

Side note 3: Really consider if you want to do Romania with your own car.

Stanislaw is also right, that at current Roșia Montană has very little tourist infrastructure. You could say it's non existent. There are three sleeping options on, two of them rather overpriced. I am not aware of any restaurants, ... Having made it to town, I realized I would go hungry that night.

Eventually, my B&B hosts picked me up on some random trail with dogs barking all around. The whole town was dark, as the floods had killed the electricity. Frankly, I was a bit frustrated with the day, having to go hungry, being lost at nigh tin the hills, and my ankle hurting plenty.

But lucky me, I was in for a Romanian dinner. Fresh cow milk, homemade cheese, mushrooms from the garden, tomatoes, pickles... Lovely. I also got to learn a little about the nomination from a local's point of view.

You see, all the stress mentioned above, was in light of a 50/50 chance of Romania pulling out of the inscription process at the last minute. They had done so before and they could do so again.

Apparently, some evil Canadian mining corporation has a contract with Romania to extract the remaining gold from the hills. Romania has stalled as there are severe environmental and preservation concerns. According to my host, the locals are afraid of the deadly chemicals (cyanide) being used in the extraction and the major impact open-pit mining would have on the landscape; the impact being that the landscape would be gone. Reading the entry on wikipedia makes my stomach turn. I have a hard time fathoming this would or should be legal at all in Europe.

The Canadians and Romanians have been involved in arbitration for years. Romania is afraid to lose and having to pay out a large award in damages. By making the site a world heritage, the option for an open pit mine is essentially gone now. Let's see what happens.

The site itself according to the official map is fairly large. I think the description by Els which focuses on the Roman mines does not fully capture what the site actually is. The Roman mines are but a part. In sum, it is a mining landscape spanning from pre Roman times to today with several different periods represented.

The most prominent feature is obviously the Roman mine in town. Unfortunately, the mine museum isn't open on weekends which could have been remedied with money and calling them ahead of time to arrange a visit. But no electricity and thereby no light due to the previous day's flood was a rather hard no. Still, there was much to explore. The town boasts nice rural Romanian houses, very different from the typical central European mining town. There are two big churches (and the one I picked for my photo). In town, you can also find the house of a mining company. I liked the small rural houses best. Outside of town are several open mines up in the hills. The stones are yellow from copper I guess. There are also lakes, one shaped in the form of a heart... Plenty of hiking opportunities.

In sum, it's a nice visit, way better than e.g. Erzgebirge. With the long history of mining in the area, I think this is a valuable addition to the list and a worthwhile detour when visiting Romania.

Last but not least, the feat that amazed me most on my visit where Romanian youth repairing the road pretty much immediately after the flood was over. In Germany, everyone would have waited for the construction crew.

Getting There

Assuming the streets aren't flooded, there are four connections to Abrud and/or Campeni that run at least daily: North (Cluj via Turda), West (Oradea), South (Deva) and East (Alba Iulia). As useful a resource as is, their bus schedules are not always correct. It's best to check at the bus station, if you can. Be mindful, that schedules may differ between weekdays and the weekend. The easiest option (and the one I chose) is via Alba Iulia. The main bus line (excellent trans) was missing from autogari. The Deva bus was also missing from autogari and it only runs between Abrud and Deva, so you would need to figure out how to get to Roșia Montană.

If your bus runs between Campeni and Abrud (all but the Deva one should), you can get off at Gura Roşiei. From there, it's a one hour hike to Roșia Montană. Alternatively, you can hike across the mountains. The rough path between Abrud and Roșia Montană takes you to the open mines, including a Roman one.

With the bus schedules as they are and without a fast way to make it to the town proper, I am not sure you can do this as a day trip if relying on public transport. If you are looking for accommodation in Roșia Montană, ... the simple B&B  I stayed in (mountain sanctuary), albeit simple and at the time without electricity, is a nice experience and has a warm host. It's also the cheapest option in town, but notoriously hard to get to if night sets in as it's remote.

I returned to Alba Iulia the next day. With the flooding, I wasn't sure if my bus was running at all and ended up hitchhiking. The best pickup point - if you are hitchhiking inclined - in Abrud is at the gas station at the end of town. It also has the added benefit of saving you several kilometers of hiking into Abrud as you pass by the gas station anyhow coming down the mountain. It should go without saying: Be mindful when you hitchhike.

While You Are There

There is a steam train running between Campeni and Abrud. They have a facebook page where you can check the time schedule.

Alba Iulia (T) is worth a visit. It's a nice 18th century fortress in good state, more interesting than either Terezin or Alessandria, and with Roman roots and ruins. Around Roșia Montană the Romans built their own Limes, the Dacian Limes, another Limes tentative nomination. Apart from that, most other sites are at least a day trip away.

Stanislaw Warwas

Poland - 08-May-20 -

Roșia Montană by Stanislaw Warwas

Visited June 2019

In my opinion this is one of the most dramatic natural and man-made landscape in Romania! Underground and open mine sites, artificial lakes, old houses and roads, industrial monuments hidden in the forests, beautiful nature, lots of walking paths through abandoned industrial scenery, history that started before the Romans came in, and that continues to our time. Two days is not enough to discover all that. But in my case, it was not about discovering gold mining history of the region, but enjoying the breathtaking beauty of the area. Be prepared if you decide to take Roşia Montană village as you base, because the tourist infrastructure in here is not very well developed; there are some places where you can spend a night or two (in old houses, of course – you’ll have a chance to see how the wealthier ones used to live, i.e Casa Petri), only one store, and no restaurant at all (there are two or three local ones and bigger shops in Dăroaia/Coasta Henţii, 3 kms to the west).

Some archaeological findings prove that gold mining in this area started well before Romans. While visiting the Roman mine you’ll hear that the gold of Thracian kings came from this region. And the Romans developed mining to the point that today the underground network of tunnels is the most extensive ever created in antiquity. Ancient dwellings, cemeteries, mine galleries, lots of artefacts, wax tablets among them – all that come from the most ancient times. And all can be seen or visited while in Roşia Montană. But this is only one part of gold mining history. Remains from Middle Ages, Austrian Empire, communist times – all is there! Different methods of mining, different tools and machines, open pits, cave-like mining corridors (photo), very rich urban planning, very interesting small architecture, including churches, bridges, villager’s houses, storages, corporation buildings, even blocks of flats from 60…

And the nature, omnipresent nature. Where green plays with earth colours. Forests, lakes, mountains, hills… (And Cariera Poieni which probably won’t be in the core zone).

And the very difficult question: to keep on exploring (RMGC) or preserve this landscape as it is?

Site Info

Full Name
Roșia Montană Mining Landscape
Unesco ID
2021 - In Danger
2 3 4
Archaeological site - Ancient Rome Structure - Mines

Site History

2021 In Danger

Upon inscription, due to unsure mining future

2021 Inscribed

2018 Referred

2018 Advisory Body overruled

ICOMOS adviced Inscription + In Danger


The site has 1 locations

Roșia Montană