The half-a-millennium-long history of Idrija began with the discovery of a rare and valuable liquid metal: mercury. The exciting discovery draw many miners into the valley that soon saw the development of a lively mining settlement, topped with a mining castle Gewerkenegg since 1533. With the discovery of the amalgamation procedure accompanying the discovery of South American silver and gold mines, mercury gained recognition and the Idrija mine soon became the second largest producer of this sole liquid metal in the world, while abroad it was renowned for its excellent technical equipment.
With the mine on the rise, 18th century saw Idrija develop into the second largest town in the Kranjska region, welcoming numerous workers from many lands. Some of the most renowned members of home and European Enlightenment emphasized its cosmopolitan character. The technical domain was proud of polymath and klavže constructor Jožef Mrak, while Idrija was put on the international map by the famous natural scientists Giovanni Antonio Scopoli, a Tirolian doctor, and Balthasar Hacquet, a surgeon of Breton descent.
In the 17th century, the miners’ wives began practicing the craft of bobbin lacemaking; the beauty and delicateness of their lace were held in high regard especially in the higher class. The most famous lacemaker was Ivanka Ferjančič, an excellent local lacemaker and the first teacher in Idrija Lace School.
Idrija. A UNESCO heritage pearl
Explore more than 500 years of mining tradition in this, once second largest mercury mine in the world.
Legend says that in 1490, a tub maker soaking his tub in a creek found droplets of unusually heavy, unfamiliar shining matter. Ever since that moment, Idrija, our oldest mining town, has been inseparably connected with the extremely rare and valuable metal – mercury. Today, Idrija and its mysterious underground world are intertwined with the mercury heritage that has been featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2012.
Admire how delicately intertwined are the thousand threads of the handmade Idrija lace in the Slovenian capital of bobbin lace. Since the end of the 17th century, the craft of designing and making lace artworks has spread from Idrija to its immediate surroundings and further on. Idrija lace is admired all over the world and its universal value was acknowledged when it made the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Taste Idrija delicacies produced from chosen locally accessible ingredients. The Idrija žlikrofi are the staple of the restaurant offer in Idrija: this distinctly shaped pasta dish filled with spiced potato balls has the national and European food designation of Traditional Speciality Guaranteed. Each traditional Idrija feast will undoubtedly also feature the smukavc cabbage stew, the ocvirkovca savoury roulade, the zeljševka chive roulade, the prfarski štruklji cottage cheese rolled dumplings, and a sip of geruš, a unique wormwood spirit.
Discover the astonishing natural and cultural monuments of the UNESCO Global Geopark Idrija. Take a hiking or cycling trip through the unspoilt nature of the Geopark and explore the Idrija countryside, discover the picturesque klavže dams that watch over the steep river gorges, walk along the mine water channel Rake, the path of Idrija’s natural scientists, and experience the mystical atmosphere of the Wild Lake.