After Maribor, Idrija will become the second Slovenian town to sport the flattering title of “Alpine Town”. On 8 February 2011, Slovenia’s cultural holiday, the former mining town will join the distinguished company of cities and towns in the Alps region whose everyday practices and development policies demonstrate their commitment to fulfilling the Alpine Convention.
Receiving this title, which is awarded by an international jury of representatives from the Working Group of Alpine Towns, the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps and the organisation Pro Vita Alpina, signifies international recognition from the community of countries in the Alpine region, involving Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, Italy and Slovenia, that as an Alpine town, Idrija is distinguished by its commitment and efforts to fulfil the fundamental requirements of the Alpine Convention, with emphasis on preserving the delicate balance between nature and human activity in the Alpine area.
Together with the co-organisers, the Municipality of Idrija organised a range of international expert events last year as part of its preparation for assuming the title, and this year’s programme of expert meetings, which will involve international consultations, exhibitions and promotional events and is set to run from the main event in February right up until November, will be even livelier. The entire programme of events will be accessible at the home page of Idrija Tourism Organisation. At the same time Idrija is preparing a new dossier for the entry of its mercury mine in the Unesco World Heritage List, after the joint Slovenian-Spanish-Mexican candidacy was rejected last year.
Idrija is the oldest mining town in Slovenia, and for five hundred years it was famed both at home and around the world for its wealth of mercury, which had a major influence on many events not just nationally but also in the wider European area. The 500 years of mining at Idrija and the surrounding area left an exceptionally rich heritage of technical, cultural and historical monuments and features, which are open to visitors as museum sites. Idrija`s ethnological distinctions include most prominently the local Idrija lace, while there is a rich and diverse local cuisine, with pride of place given to the dumpling speciality known as "idrijski žlikrofi".
The year 2011 will also be important for Idrija for another reason. In January, after 100 years Idrija acquired a new hotel and thereby some overnight capacity that the town was lacking. The Hotel Jožef − the name comes from the numerous Jožefs who lived and worked in Idrija − boasts four stars and has 11 rooms and a suite, a restaurant, covered terrace and snack area for tasting.