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Idrija ranked on the Unesco list

Within the 36th meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia that was held on 30 June 2012, the Unesco World Heritage Committee reached an important decision for Idrija – the 2011 EDEN winner – and Slovenia. The common nomination of Slovenia and Spain, entitled Heritage of Mercury, saw Almaden and Idrija ranked on the list of world cultural and natural heritage under the auspices of Unesco.

This is important news for Idrija and Almaden, including their heritage connected to mercury, which can be placed on the list of the most important cultural and natural monuments of all time. At the same time, this achievement is a result of intensive six-year common endeavours of Idrija and Slovenia as well as their Spanish partners. The common nomination of Slovenia and Spain focused on technical heritage connected to mines in Idrija and Almaden, where the largest mercury mines in the world were active until just recently; moreover, they specifically represent the importance of mining, technologies and industries associated with mercury.

The entry of the mercury mine in Idrija onto the Unesco world heritage list represents recognition for the people of Idrija as well as people from other places and countries that have been connected with the Idrija mine throughout history – they created an amazing heritage during the centuries that the Idrija mercury mine operated; moreover, this heritage was the basis for a comprehensive development of the town and its population and has decisively influenced the development of numerous sciences and areas on a global scale.

The Unesco World Heritage Committee has justified the ranking of the Heritage of Mercury Almadén and Idrija (Slovenia/Spain) to the UNESCO list in the following way: `The property includes the mining sites of Almadén, where mercury (quicksilver) has been extracted since Antiquity, and Idrija, where mercury was first found in 1490 A.D. The Spanish property includes buildings relating to its mining history, including Retamar Castle, religious buildings and traditional dwellings. The site in Idrija notably features mercury stores and infrastructure, as well as miners’ living quarters, and a miners’ theatre. The sites bear testimony to the intercontinental trade in mercury, which generated important exchanges between Europe and America over the centuries. The two sites represent the two largest mercury mines in the world and were operational until recent times.`

This is another recognition for Idrija, which became the Slovenian EDEN destination in 2011; in 2011, winning destinations were singled out for playing a key role in reviving their region, bringing sustainable development and new life to run-down cultural, historical and natural sites and acting as a catalyst for wider local regeneration.


Idrija has, along with the closure of the mercury mine, systematically begun to incorporate the immovable cultural heritage of mining and other related economic, social, and spiritual activities into its tourist offer. Besides Idrija’s exceptionally well-preserved and presented technical heritage (mine, spade-shaped wheels – kamšti, water barriers – klavže, pump, presentation at the museum), other contents are being developed, including culinary offers (Idrija žlikrofi), souvenir offers (Idrija hand-made lace, products of Idrija farms), and events (Lace Festival, marathons).

There is also a ‘geo’ park underway and the area of Idrija is conveniently connected to several hiking and cycling routes. Also very commendable is the rising awareness by local inhabitants regarding the environmental issues and effects of the former mining industry on their lives.

To see the promotional film, click here.



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