Through the "Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage" (1972), The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proposed a protection plan for the world's cultural assets. Presently, the World Heritage List includes seven monuments or sites in Romania. Since 1999, we also count in this list the complex of Dacian fortresses from the Orăștie Mountains, in the historical province of Transylvania.
Built in the so called “murus dacicus” technique, the six fortresses, belonging to the Dacian Complex that was included in the UNESCO heritage, were constructed between the Ist century BC and the Ist century AD for purposes of local defence and as signs of prestige by the Late Iron Age aristocracy. These fortresses represented the nucleus of the Dacian state during the reign of Dacian kings from Burebista to Decebalus. The ruins, still visible today, offer quite a clear image of a flourishing civilisation from the Iron Age. Also, they reflect the development of the material culture at that time.
The oldest written mention on these fortifications comes from the end of the XVIth century. At the time, the existence of a city with stone walls, situated in the mountains near Orăștie, was mentioned. Periodically, the ancient ruins from the valley of Apa Oașului stimulated the interest of scholars, yet there are still many mysteries waiting to be solved.
For this reason, a larger project started in 2012, dedicated to the study of the monuments left by the Dacian civilisation. The Multiannual Archaeological Research Program for the Orăștie Mountains is coordinated by the National Museum of Transylvanian History of Cluj-Napoca and financed by the Romanian Ministry of Culture.