The destination Idrija is a proud member of the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, and a holder of the Slovenia Green Destination Gold label.
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BY ENLISTING THE IDRIJA GEOPARK AMONG THE UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARKS IN 2015, UNESCO HAS ACKNOWLEDGED THE GLOBAL SIGNIFICANCE OF IDRIJA’S GEOLOGICAL HERITAGE
At its 38th session in November 2015 in Paris, UNESCO General Conference approved the statute and the directives of the new International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme (IGGP) and the establishment of the UNESCO Global Geoparks within the programme. This decision brought all the existing Global Geoparks Network (GGN) members, Idrija Geopark being one of them, straight into the new UNESCO programme, whereas Idrija Geopark became a UNESCO Global Geopark. After 2012, when the “Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija” was enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with its recent decision, UNESCO has acknowledged the global significance of Idrija’s heritage, this time geological, for the second time in a row. Due to its value, the heritage of Idrija managed to gain direct protection of UNESCO in two different ways in less than three years. For the municipality of Idrija this is an extraordinary honour, an opportunity to develop sustainable geotourism and at the same time a grand responsibility to preserve the heritage for our ancestors.
As a global organisation in the fields of culture, education and science, UNESCO enforces a coordinated approach to preserving cultural heritage and natural values on the global level. The most important instrument is the 1972 World Heritage Convention that deals with elements of cultural and natural heritage in reciprocal connection and dependence and with human influence on their existence and use.
Due to the peculiarities of different heritage branches, UNESCO has also introduced other programmes and activities to promote and manage their recognition, protection and development. The Global Geoparks Network, members of which are also the two Slovenian geoparks – Idrija and Karavanke/Karawanken geoparks, has worked under the patronage and with the support of UNESCO since its establishment in 2004. By approving the statute and directives for the GGN in 2014, the network fulfilled all the conditions to enforce a new IGGP programme within UNESCO, which was also approved of by the UNESCO General Conference at their last session. Thus, the geoparks, after many years of endeavours, have been equalled with protected areas programmes such as MAB (Man and Biosphere) and Ramsar. The new IGGP binds 120 geoparks in 33 countries around the world to follow the UNESCO directives of natural and cultural heritage protection. First and foremost, global geoparks together with their partners are great promotors of exceptional geological phenomena all over the world and are becoming more and more important in the development of geotourism.
By being enlisted in the UNESCO IGGP programme, Idrija Geopark will gain more recognition and is given the responsibility to retain the UNESCO Global Geopark title. Idrija and its vicinity represent great potential for a sustainable geotourism development with its exceptional geological and overall natural and cultural heritage.
UNESCO HERITAGE OF MERCURY. ALMADÉN AND IDRIJA 2012
At the meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee which took place end of June 2012 in St. Petersburg, a decision was made to include the »Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija« (Spain, Slovenia) on the world heritage list. According to the committee’s assessment, the nominated destination met the conditions of outstanding universal value or conditions of integrity and authenticity.
The industrial heritage of two world-famous mercury mines – Almadén in Spain and Idrija in Slovenia – has been included on the prestigious world heritage list because the two mines are the largest mines for the recovery of this extraordinary and unique liquid metal; because of their connections in the past; because they have managed to maintain a diverse and unique heritage related to the mercury recovery; and because together they constitute different aspects of “mercury culture” both in the technical and economic aspect in particular and in the cultural, urban, social and ecological aspect in general. In modern age, they have both co-created the world history. Mercury recovered in these two mines was then used in the amalgamation process in the mines of South America to recover silver and gold which were than brought back to Europe contributing to the development of economy, science and art.
The Idrija heritage placed on the world heritage list comprises the heritage of the mine and mining industry in the broadest sense of the word: ore deposit, underground shafts, galleries, industrial buildings as well as profane and sacred architecture. The very first thing worth mentioning is the Anthony’s Main Road – Idrija’s underground turned into a museum, followed by the Gewerkenegg Castle which is a home to the best European museum of industrial and technical heritage, the Francis’ Shaft with renovated mining machinery and equipment, the kamšt water pump, the smelting plant, the klavže dams, the grain silo and the theatre, Idrija miner’s house, the old town’s centre, etc.
IDRIJA – 2011 EUROPEAN DESTINATION OF EXCELLENCE
In the framework of EDEN (European Destinations of Excellence) project, the STB published the invitation for the selection of the 2011 European Destination of Excellence for the fourth time in a row. The theme of the selection process was: TOURISM AND REGENERATION OF PHYSICAL SITES.
The STB selected a destination which, in accordance with the sustainable development principles, revived one or more physical sites of cultural heritage, breathed some new tourist character and meaning into them, encouraged the revitalisation of local environment in a sustainable manner, and contributed to an increased number of tourists throughout the year.
On the basis of an assessment made by the expert committee responsible for the selection of the European destination of excellence in 2011, Idrija received the highest number of points after the first and second cycle, and was nominated the 2011 destination of excellence with its project »Idrija – a story for all times«. Idrija was selected a winner alongside the following three runners-up: Peca Underground – Tourist Mine and Museum, Velenje Underground Adventure, and Žiče Charterhouse in the Valley of John the Baptist. Members of the committee made the decision on the basis of the criteria listed in the tender documentation, and after having visited the four runners-up on the site.
2011 ALPINE TOWN OF THE YEAR
In February 2011, Idrija was awarded the 2011 Alpine Town of the Year title. The title is a recognition of the international Alpine community received by Idrija for its commitment to implementing the Alpine Convention provisions in the sense of promoting sustainable development with the emphasis on preserving the subtle balance between the environment and man-made activities in the Alpine area. In this way Idrija has become one of the renowned cities and towns which, through their day-to-day practice and development policies, demonstrate their commitment to implementing the provisions of the Alpine Convention.
By being awarded the “2011 Alpine Town of the Year” title Idrija has confirmed its orientation towards a sustainable environment-friendly development. At the same time, the title contributes to the promotion and recognition of Idrija in the Alpine area. The Municipality of Idrija wishes to attract as many locals of different generations to participate in different events, as both professional and social gatherings are meant for them and for enhancing their awareness of a common Alpine area which Idrija belongs to.
2007 GEM OF THE SLOVENIAN ALPS
In November 2007, Idrija visited Lugano and participated in “IViaggiatori” - the largest and most renowned international holiday exhibition taking place in Switzerland. The exhibition is an important meeting point for visitors from Switzerland and Italy, home and foreign tourist operators/agencies, Swiss and Italian media as well as international tourist providers. A special committee responsible for the selection of the nominated cities sent an official invitation to Idrija as early as in March. At the time, Idrija was the only representative from Slovenia. At the ceremony, the Mayor received the award on behalf of Idrija who was named the gem of the Slovenian Alps in the Wellness Paradises category. The Swiss award is an important recognition for all nominated destinations who responded to the invitation and decided to participate in the exhibition. The main objective of the award is to promote high tourism, to protect natural and cultural heritage, to encourage competition in achieving excellence in service provision, and to showcase diversity and unique character of each and every destination to both Swiss and international public.