The Transylvanian Gold-Rush

Today we will travel to one of the most beautiful regions in the country, the Apuseni Mountains, the western part of the Carpathians and go on a thrilling quest for gold. These are some of the wildest and most spectacular mountains in Romania and have attracted interest from all neighboring populations, starting with the Roman Empire, until modern times. The main reason for that are the huge gold and silver ores that are hidden here. The first ones to discover them were the Romans, who came in the second century AC to conquer this region. Legend has it that, with the gold they took from here, they were able to finace the building of “the column of Trajan” in Rome. In Roşia Montană, hundreds of kilometers of Roman galleries have survived until today and we can still visit some of them. In the centre of the city we will see the Protestant and Orthodox churches, some of the miner’s houses and the former headquarter s of the mining company.The mining activity has continued throughout the centuries, until it was shut down because of environmental issues at the end of the 20th century. Nowadays there is an ongoing debate concerning the reopening of the mining activity, that would generate working places, but also could have a huge negative environmental impact. Over the past years, there have been a lot of debates regarding this situation. We invite you to talk to the locals and find out more about it and also to take a hike to the mountains surrounding the small city and enjoy a great panorama of the whole area.

We will also make a short stop in the small city of Brad, which used to be one of the biggest mining centers in Europe. Here we will visit a very interesting museum dedicated to gold and its history in the region, reopened a couple of years ago, with exponents worth millions of euro. All of the gold shown here was mined in the area.

Later in the afternoon, we will reach Alba Iulia, the former Roman capital of the region and later, the capital of Transylvania. This is the place where all of the gold extracted in the mountains was gathered and then shipped to Rome. The city was founded by Roman colonists in the 2nd century AC and used to have three temples, a forum and hundreds of administrative and private buildings. Some of the ruins have been restored in the past years and can be visited toady. Following the Hungarian conquest of the region, the city was rebuilt in the 10th century, becoming the main religious center of Transylvania. The catholic cathedral dating back to the 10th century is the oldest church in the country and represents a unique architectural treasure, combining Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. Many rulers and bishops were buried here, among them, Johann Hunyadi, the prince of Transylvania and father of the Hungarian king Mathias Corvinus. As a sign of religious tolerance, just a couple of meters away, you can find the Orthodox cathedral, purposefully built in the 1920s for the coronation of the Ferdinand and Maria, king and queen of Romania. Its architecture is typical for the Romanian-Orthodox churches. Among so many highlights, probably the biggest one is the Austrian Vauban citadel, built in the 18th century, almost unspoiled until today.
In the evening we will return to Sibiu.