Experience Idria town and its rich natural and cultural heritage. The mercury mine in Idrija, which was operating until 1995, made the town world famous. Since 2012 Idrija town has been on the UNESCO world heritage list together with the Spanish mercury mine in Almadén. Both mines are by far the largest mercury mines in the world. Idrija is located in a deep valley, surrounded by mountains, forests and water. The entire municipality belongs to the UNESCO Geopark Idrija. With its unique and protected natural heritage Geopark Idrija is one of the most interesting parks of its kind in Europe.
Visit the sights of UNESCO heritage in Idrija
Idrija is a real mining town, but do not expect large industrial zones. Idrija is, just like the other Slovenian places, a small cozy and cute old town. From the historic center you walk to all major attractions from the mining history.
Antony’s shaft, the second largest mercury mine in the world, is the oldest part of the mine with one of the oldest still preserved entrances in Europe, rearranged into a tourist mine. It shows daily working routine of miners, how the mercury used to be mined and transported. All the old tools are still completely original. You can also visit the underground chapel that was built in the mine in 18th century. You can visit the mine over a length of 1,300 meters and a depth of over 300 meters. A unique underground experience you need to discover when exploring Idrija. You might spot a pit dwarf (Perkmandlc) as well J. Šelštev- entrance into Antony’s shaft used to be a register office.
Idrija miner’s house
Idrija miner’s house, built in 18th century on the slopes, can be found just outside Idrija center. The narrow high building is built to accommodate as many people as possible which shows the typical local architecture.
Franc’s shaft hosts a collection of 29 mining machines and presents technical heritage of Idrija mercury mine. The highlight of the exhibition is a restored steam pump dating back in 1893. This is probably the largest preserved steam engine in Europe.
Idrija mercury mine smelting plant
Hg smelting plant displays an exhibition from Ore to Mercury Drops where you can learn about unique liquid metal that has changed the world and its universal applicability in science, industry, medicine, engineering, culture and daily life. Inspiring!
Kamšt water wheel
Kamšt water wheel is a water pump with a wooden water-driven wheel. It is the biggest preserved wooden water wheel in Europe.
Impressive Gewerkenegg Castle used to be the administrative building of the Idrija Mercury Mine. Since 1954 it has been hosting Idrija Municipal Museum. Visit the main permanent exhibitions: Five Centuries of the Mercury Mine and Idrija Lace – A History Written in Thread.
Stroll around the town, admire municipal apiary (welcome anytime to learn more about Bee world at my Bee Happy Experience) and lace school.
Zgornja Idrijca Landscape park
Admire Scopoli botanical garden. Then stretch your legs and walk to 3,5 kilometers long Rake water channel and Divje jezero (The wild lake), the mysterious lake in the forest that is a protected natural monument.
Cycle or drive to construction masterpiece called Klavže water barriers (Slovenian pyramids due to its majestic construction!) on Idrijca river and Belca river which were constructed and built for the purpose of floating timber used in the mine. At the confluence of the Idrijca and Belca rivers stop for a swimming at natural swimming spot called Lajšt. All these natural and cultural attractions are part of Zgornja Idrijca Landscape park that covers 4,230 hectares of diverse landscape.
What to taste in Idrija?
Idrija dumplings (Idrijski žlikrofi)
Idrija žlikrofi are traditional Slovenian dumplings and definitely culinary specialty number 1 of Idrija. The dish is prepared from dough and stuffed with potato filling. It has a typical shape of a “hat” with ears that differs Idrija žlikrofi from other dumplings. The locals of Idrija like to serve žlikrofi with bakalca, lamb stew and vegetables. Idrija žlikrofi are protected as a traditional specialty guaranteed by European Commission.
Ocvirkovca, zeljškevka, smukavc
Ocvirkovca and zeljškevka are cakes made from leavened dough. The first is filled with cracknels, the second one with chives. Smukavc is a stew prepared from leaves of cabbage or chicory, potato and garlic and larded with minced lard. In spring and through the summer the housewives of Idrija have been preparing it from cabbage leaves and from kale in autumn and winter.
Geruš is an old miners’ drink made out of the absinthe (wormwood).
Sweet cake dessert Rezi
In one of the local inns in Idrija town you can taste sweet dessert. On the top of Rezi cake there is a lace decoration made out of sugar.
Where to eat in Idrija and its surroundings?
Hotel Jožef, Vojkova 9A, 5280 Idrija
T: 00386 8 20 04 250
Gostilna pri Škafarju, Ulica svete Barbare 9, 5280 Idrija
T: 00386 5 37 73 240
Gostišče Barbara, Kosovelova 3, 5280 Idrija
T: 00386 5 37 22 300
Gostilna Kos, Tomšičeva 4, 5280 Idrija
T: 00386 5 372 20 30
Tourist farm Podobnik, Pot v Češnjice 24, 5280 Idrija
T: 00386 5 374 11 03
Kendov dvorec, Na Griču 2, 5281 Spodnja Idrija
T: 00386 5 372 51 00
Gostilna Mlinar, Žirovska cesta 4, 5281 Spodnja Idrija
T: 00386 5 377 63 16
Kmečki hram Fortuna, Idršek 1A, Razpotje, 5281 Spodnja Idrija
T: 00386 5 37 791 49
Gostišče Črni vrh, Črni Vrh 78, 5274 Črni Vrh nad Idrijo
T: 00386 5 377 70 15
Festivals to visit in Idrija
Idrija lace festival/Festival idrijske čipke: mid-June.
Idrija dumplings festival/Praznik idrijskih žlikrofov: end of August.