UNESCO’s Idrija excites with its unique combination – incredible mercury heritage and luxury of lacemaking. Due to its 500-year richness in mercury, the town, caught in a hilly landscape of pre-Alpine Slovenia in the Idrijca river valley, is known at home and on the world stage. The town boasts an amazing technical heritage and offers attractive views of past centuries. By bicycle or on foot you can enjoy the excellent cuisine and discover the attractive stories of the miners and lace makers, away from the hustle and bustle.
What is the story of Idrija, the town with what was once the second largest mercury mine in the world? According to legend, a local was gathering water with a bucket in the stream; when he tried to pull it up, he could barely move it. He had caught a bucket full of mercury. Only a couple of years after the discovery, mercury was being excavated and a town was born on the surface. The Idrija Mine was ranked among the most prominent Central European corporations for several centuries, and it played a significant role in international economic relations. After 500 years of operating, the mine is now closed; however, its heritage can still be seen.
Idrija was also strongly characterized by laces. Snow-white laces are a feature of Idrija known all around the world. The stories of miners and lace makers can be seen in the exhibition area of the Idrija town museum in the Gewerkenegg castle, Lacemaking school Idrija and in the International Centre of the Idrija lace.
Our hints to explore Idrija and its surroundings:
- You can descend into the Antonijev rov shaft, the best arranged part of the mine for visitors. Here you can get lost in the memories of a 500-year-long mining tradition and maybe even chance upon the cave dwarf!
- The nearby Idrija Miner’s House from the 18th century provides you with insight into the mining heritage.
- Above the city reigns the Gewerkenegg Castle with the Idrija Municipal Museum that goes deeper into the mining heritage and displays geological valuables and famous Idrija laces.
- The Idrija Lace-making School preserves the special technique of hand bobbin lace-making – why not try it yourself?
- The Idrija tourist-information centre will gladly present to you the possibilities for cycling and hiking discoveries in the area. Each of the cycling and hiking trails includes numerous interesting sights of natural and cultural heritage. You can select your own custom-made trip.
- If you are heading towards Idrija in warm weather, it is worth visiting the popular natural bathing complex Idrijska Bela, at the confluence of the rivers Idrijca and Belca, 7 km from the exit from the main road Ljubljana-Idrija along the upper part of the Idrijca River.
- TOP CULINARY TIP: You must definitely try the local specialty Idrija flour dumplings (Idrijski žlikrofi)!
Where to stay?
- You may choose between various small accommodation facilities; a pearl among them is definitely the Hotel Kendov dvorec, a countryside manor with its origins going back as far as 1377. It has been entirely renovated, but it retains its old tradition. Kenda’s cuisine strives for exactly the same.
- Or you can select Hotel Jožef, a small boutique hotel located between the historic centre of Idrija and the entrance to the mine.
Idrija received the European Destination of Excellence title in 2011 for the revival of its immovable heritage. See the promotional film about Idrija (STORIES OF PAST CENTURIES).
INFORMATION: More information about the destination and assistance for programmes can be obtained from the local tourist organisation, Idrija Turizem.