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lorin niculae | profile | all galleries >> romania, tara mea >> Endangered Places >> Endangered Places: Rosia Montana tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Endangered Places: Rosia Montana

The splendor of this place may disappear due to a huge surface mining project that will change the landscape, turning mountains into valleys and the main valley into a cyanide lake...

"Rosia Montană. A view from the inside.

The end of summer is near. Lakes with deep water, ancient dialogues between the mountain and the sky. Landscape with wooden cross and rocks. The clock on the white steeple reminds you there is another kind of time, different from the one avowed by the place where you find youself in. A present time torn in the clash between being and non-being, guided perhaps by the angel which flies facing the past and awaited by the stone devil that looks down at the village named after a colour.
The village situated in the Rosia Valley has one of the oldest traditions regarding the exploitation of precious metals in Europe. An ancient settlement, attested ever since the time of the Romans; the first ones who worked in the mining field were the Agathyrsi, a people of Thraco-Scythic origin, then the colonists brought from Iliria, the territory of modern-day Albania.
The spirit of the place resists. The locals try to convey the emotional and spiritual content of the place, they try to make the tourists feel the gold beneath their feet in a different manner. In order to achieve this, the foreigners must put their imagination at work, visualise a projection that threatens to turn into something real: the disappearance of the mountains and vegetation as they are to be replaced with colourless hills of barren, useless rock, people removed from the places where they were born and where they lived. Drastic changes of relief, levelled plains, demolished houses, churches and cemeteries.
The successive traces of different civilizations are brought together in a palimpsest. Weddings of stone on land of gold. The chisel and the hammer crossed, symbols of the guild, are carved on tombstones and applied on the decorative elements of the houses.
Artificially-created lakes are perfectly integrated in the armony of the place. Weird shapes born out of stone by history itself and named according to the popular imagination, devils and sphinxes. Mountains made from silver and gold. In their galleries, among traces of exploitation, people discovered waxed tablets and writing instruments. A concealed fortress that lives covered with ground, increasing its value and its significance for the future.
Architecture dating back from the time of the Austro-Hungarian occupation. Split houses, shrivelled ornaments, rusted door handles, broken windows, erased traces of habitation in the houses deserted by people. Beautiful houses, filled with flowers and children’s laughter, places where people persist in remaining. Windows with wrought iron grating, stucco decorations, wooden insertions.
The house with dark green walls and anthropomorph ornaments: you can catch a glimpse of its history through the loosened plaster and the closed doors, in a play upon textures and layers. The white house with one ajar window takes pride in its wrought iron lace, old jewel fighting time. Small houses with reddish roofs and churches live their lives under the protection of rocks and firtrees. The quarry near the fortress is silent.
Churches belonging to several confessions live together and bring harmony to the place from a spiritual point of view, setting people’s existence: Orthodox, Greek-Catholic, Roman-Catholic, Reformed, Unitarian. The legends and the popular beliefs last, too.
In the courtyard of the Greek-Catholic Church there are simple crosses, bent by time; inside, eclectic decoration. The sky of the church, a light-blue vault, with thousands of stars engraved, keeps vigil over the old mural painting and the elegant altar.
Vernacular architecture, a breech in time. Roofs made out of firtree branches, a civilization of wood: house-shelter, object-decoration, means of living, essence-material. The pictorial natural surroundings speak about conservation, memory, continuity.
On the walls of the Unitarian Church, construction dating from hundreds of years ago, with crude aspect and a bell tower with Baroque roof, you can see photographs of forgotten architecture monuments in Romania while the sounds of the organ announce the beginning of the service.
The circular funerary monument created during the first centuries of Christianity is situated in the proximity of the former Fortress. Not far from Roșia, the performance of the mountains reveals forms of volcanic relief, vertical basalt pillars, ash-coloured stones glazed by time.
Underneath, galleries unfold, endless rows of corridors dug in rock, extremely low or as high as an entire church with spires, a nineteen-storey labyrinth, lit with rushlight by the Romans in the old days. From the mines in Văidoaia people extracted gold making use of water and fire.
Inside the mine, the cold and the artificial light draw up the outline of a hidden world, ancient galleries where man and gold saw each other for the first time, with narrow stairs and corridors, and low ceilings dripping with golden mud. Their relation then shaped the relief, spaces, destinies, history.
Near the mine entrance, placed in a row, there are funerary stelae with antique symbols and votive stones with inscriptions in Latin.
Close to the yard of the museum, the transparent house, with hundreds of glass squares in wooden frames, is getting close to the stage of invisibility. On the ground there are more and more fragments of glass, pieces of plaster and wood.
The shining of the gold voids the ground, stealing away its significance and its content, and abolishes the relief. The natural colours are made of clean air and warm light. Liquid mirrors act as doubles of the landscape, enhancing its beauty. The sunset caresses the places, tames the hues and heals the golden wounds of the earth. Birch forests, trees that feel the gold. Hidden lakes, seen throught the light filtered by leaves and needles. Pure sky and limpid water. Wonderful horses adorned with colourfull tassels. The church with the pyramid-shaped roof stands silent.
Rosia Montană is breathing."

Alexandra Purnichescu
29 august 2012
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Pictures at an Exhibition
:: Pictures at an Exhibition ::
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