The Roșia Montană Mining Landscape, a socio-technical palimpsest of successive empires and cultures that have shaped it, has unparalleled time-depth and is exceptionally diverse and readable in such a compact area. Roșia Montană is situated in a natural amphitheater of massifs and radiating valleys in the Metalliferous range of the Apuseni Mountains, located in the historical region of Transylvania in the central part of present-day Romania. The site represents the centre of the so-called Golden Quadrilateral of the Southern Carpathians – the richest precious metals province in Europe.
Gold occurred in veins within seven small mountains that visually dominate the landscape of Roșia Montană, itself surrounded on three sides by dividing ridges and peaks. Towering crags are pierced by old mine entrances, their tops scarred by opencast working. Roman archaeology at surface is prolific and pervasive, comprising ore-processing areas, living quarters, administrative buildings, sacred areas and necropolises, some with funerary buildings with complex architecture, all set in relation to over 7 km of ancient underground workings discovered to date. Forest and scree mix on steep slopes and, mounted on rocky knolls, the towers and spires of historic churches command the villages of Roșia Montană and the much smaller Corna, settlements constrained by relief in valleys that also provided for ore-dressing, communication and transport. Steeply sloping meadows are characterised by agro-pastoral practices that are as old as the mining activity itself, and a number of artificial lakes, formerly header ponds for ore processing that were greatly expanded from 1733, punctuate higher elevations.>