Roşia Montană (County Alba, Romania) is a gold mining site known and exploited since Roman or even pre-Roman times until the recent past. Traditional, family- or small group-operated mining has been going on for roughly two millennia, with even farther precedents, and lasted until the 1948 Communist nationalization, making of this place one of the most long-lived traditional mining centres known today. This particular endurance translates into a systematic and profound interrelation between natural setting and cultural phenomena – from deep down into the mountains, all the way to the surface, from topography to fauna and flora and to the human communities of the area, which produced one of the richest and most spectacular cultural landscapes of Romania and possibly of Europe.
In this paper, an overview of the cultural heritage of the site is presented, based on acknowledged or emerging multidisciplinary research and evaluations. Consequently, two currently confronting visions for the development of the site are presented, a large-scale short-term open-cast mining project with already felt damaging effect on the cultural heritage, and the long-term sustainable development based on the rich cultural and natural resources, with a vision for the inscription of the site in the World Heritage List.