Idrija is the oldest mining town in Slovenia. In the past, the famous mercury mine, the second-largest in the world, provided the town with great prosperity in all fields, from technology and science to trade and culture. Nowadays the entire old town centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Anthony’s Main Road is one of the oldest preserved mine entrances in the world. Idrija is also a home to plenty of interesting preserved mine equipment. Visit Idrija Kamšt, a water pump for the mine, with the largest preserved wooden water wheel in Europe; Francisci Shaft with the exhibition of mine machineries; “klavže”- the water barriers, which were used to transport wood along the streams; Hg smelting plant…The mine administration once resided in Gewerkenegg Castle, which nowadays holds Idrija Municipal Museum.
Geologically one of the most peculiar parts of the country, the Idrija area encompasses the Idrija UNESCO Global Geopark, which is also the UNESCO Heritage Site. Because of its green responsibility to the environment Idrija was named both the Alpine Town of the Year and the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) in the year 2011.
The countryside of Idrija is a true paradise for enthusiasts of outdoor activities in a pristine environment, who go hiking or cycling at any time of the year, or go fishing, climbing, or pick herbs and mushrooms when the time is right. During the winter the plateaus around Idrija are packed with skiers.
Idrija is also the main and the oldest Slovenian centre of handmade bobbin lace. Idrija lace nowadays carries a geographical mark as the finest handmade craft product. You can see the skilled lacemakers’ hands twisting the threads on the streets of Idrija at the Idrija Lace Festival - the biggest event in town, dedicated to the craft of lacemaking and preserving the tradition. Idrija Lace School has been active continuously since 1876 and still offers classes to all generations.
The gourmets know very well that the dish to have in Idrija is the exquisite idrijski žlikrofi, the culinary specialty of this town and today boast the European trademark protection. The dish is prepared from dough with potato filling and has a typical shape.
Top things to do
Spend an active day in the UNESCO global Geopark Idrija
Wander around the geologically interesting Idrija UNESCO Global Geopark , which offers numerous active experiences in nature. The area attracts nature-lovers and those who like to spend their free-time actively. There are many opportunities for recreation: from hiking and mountaineering; biking on specially marked biking paths; swimming in a natural swimming area; climbing; sport fishing; running along the Rake water channel; sledding, skiing, and cross-country skiing during winter months.
Discover the UNESCO heritage of Idrija
Visit the second largest mercury mine in the world-it is a unique and pleasant experience. Anthony’s Shaft was first opened in the year 1500 and is known to be one of the oldest still preserved entrances into mines in Europe. Go see the Gewerkenegg castle-it was built in the first half of the 16th century as the administrative building of the Idrija Mercury Mine. Since 1954 it has been the seat of the Municipal Museum Idrija. While exploring the old centre of Idrija you will also see the first theatre building in Slovenia, the first Slovenian non-classical secondary school and the Magazin, the preserved mine grain store....
Visit Idrija, The Capital of Famous Idrija Lace
Wander around the geologically interesting Idrija UNESCO Global Geopark , which offers numerous active experiences in nature. The area attracts nature-lovers and those Idrija is home to the famous bobbin lace – Idrija Lace. For fashion designers, artists and other creative people Idrija Lace nowadays provides a great challenge. Visit the permanent exhibition ‘Idrija Lace – A History Written in Thread’ in Gewerkenegg Castle.
Come to Idrija for a culinary trip
Try the exquisite local cuisine - fill your empty bellies with delicious Idrija “žlikrofi”, shaped like Napoleon’s hat, with “bakalca” or other sauces. Among the other traditional local dishes: the juicy curd cheese štruklji (dumplings), the rich smukavc cabbage and potato stew, types of “potica” cake- ocvirkovka with cracknels and zeljševka with chives. As a dessert do not hesitate to take a sip of geruš – the miners’ wormwood spirit. While drinking coffee, you can sweeten your day by eating the famous Rezi cake, which is decorated with a sugary Idrija lace.
Idrija is social in all seasons
In all seasons, there is an abundance of fun, ethnological and sporting events. In June don’t miss the Idrija Lace Festival, the biggest event in town with an international reputation, dedicated to the craft of lacemaking and preserving the tradition. Feel the festive spirit at the biggest outdoor lacemaking competition in Slovenia and visit top class lace exhibitions during the days of the festival. In August visit the Idrija Žlikrof Festival, a culinary event, dedicated to delicious Idrija Žlikrofi. The goal of the event is to send this traditional miners’ delicacy into a world of modern flavours, giving it an interesting new twist.