The Romanian NGO “ARA – Architecture. Restoration. Archeology” has been awarded the very first Costa Carras European Citizens Award for the Safeguard of Endangered Cultural and Natural Heritage, supported by the EIB Institute, for its exemplary work mobilising citizens to promote and protect the outstanding heritage of Roșia Montană, located in Transylvania (Romania).

The ceremony took place within the framework of the Delphi Economic Forum on 26 April in the presence of H.E. The President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou, an exceptional honour that demonstrates the highest recognition of the importance of civil society for democracy and for the safeguard of our cultural and natural heritage.

The award was instituted earlier this year by Europa Nostra and Elliniki Etairia – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage in memory of Costa Carras, an iconic champion of the protection of the environment and cultural heritage in Greece and in Europe who passed away in 2022. The founding partners of the award are the A.G. Leventis Foundation, the Delphi Economic Forum and the EIB Institute.

The three millenia old Roșia Montană mining landscape in Romania, threatened by a large-scale open-cast gold mining project promoted by a Canadian-based company, was one of the very first 7 Most Endangered sites. In 2021 it was put on the World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Its destruction was averted thanks to the mass mobilization of citizens together with national (ARA), European (Europa Nostra) and international organisations and various local NGOs who advocated an alternative, sustainable, long-term development project based on the special characteristics of the area – the historic mining landscape with its outstanding cultural and natural heritage.

Established in 2006, “ARA – Architecture. Restoration. Archaeology” brings together architects, restorers, archaeologists, art historians and engineers who decided to extend their activity for the better knowledge, understanding and protection of cultural heritage. ARA’s activity in Roșia Montană began in 2007.  After emergency rescue campaigns, ARA established a continuous presence on the ground, with activities that merge research and documentation, emergency works, teaching and passing of skills and knowledge, conservation and restoration planning and works, communication and presentation of cultural heritage, and community building.

Such actions have continued since, partly taking the form of Summer Schools for architecture students, Volunteer Camps and, from 2012, within the framework of the Adopt a House at Roșia Montană, a cultural heritage and community rescue and protection programme, making the connection between local owners of historic buildings, cultural heritage professionals, and donors or volunteers.