As the oldest Slovenian mining city, Idrija grew with the development of the mercury mine. A mining settlement was founded at the end of 15th century and had civic trading rights bestowed in 17th century. In 18th century Idrija as a city was considered one of the most important centers in Slovenia.
Until World War I Idrija stayed the second largest city in the region of Carniola. It was well connected with the most important European provinces and cities (Venice, Amsterdam, Vienna) and was a very interesting destination for scientific and technical elite of the time (Steinberg, Scopoli, Haquet, Lipold). Many of them left their mark on the city. Still today, names of many parts of the city remind us of various technical achievements from the old times: Bašerija - ore preparation, Prejnuta and Pront - ore furnace, Lenštat and Riže - wood storehouse, Gasa - street, etc.
Today Idrija has almost 7000 inhabitants and is in many ways still growing. An ongoing process of modernization can be sensed in the city, which is trying hard to establish industrial and cultural connections with the rest of the World. The mercury mine today is in the process of closing down. But even with the deviation to more modern industrial fields, the city is trying to preserve its links with 500 years of mining traditions.
A half millennium of mining mercury in Idrija and its surroundings left an exceptionally rich heritage of technical, cultural, and historical monuments and points of interest available to visitors as museum displays. The city's traditions in mercury mining has earned it an inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List, shared with the town of Almadén in Spain.
- Lake Divje jezero, 2 km to the south, is at least 160 m deep. Not for amateur divers, but you can enjoy the rich flora and fauna in its serene surrounding.
- 1 Anthony Mine Shaft, Kosovelova 3. An old mercury mine that is now open for exhibition to guests. Guided tours available.
- 2 Miner's Theatre. Theatre dating from the 1770s.
- 3 Miner's House. Traditional miner's house from the 18th and 19th century.
- St Joseph's Parish Church.
- 4 Old Town. Well preserved historic old town, and part of the UNESCO World Heritage site for its significance in the history of mercury mining.
- Geopark. Area of geological significance.
- 5 Smelter. Historic ore smelter and part of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
- St. Barbara Parish Church.
- 6 Water tank. Historic water tank that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site for mercury mining.
- 7 Gewerkenegg Castle (Grad Gewerkenegg).
One of the most adored Slovenian traditional crafts is Idrija Lace.
This fine, handmade traditional Slovenian product can be adored in the city museum. Those who won't settle just for looking, can also visit various galleries and studios, making and selling lace and lace products.
The traditional local cuisine is both rich and diverse in which the foremost place belongs to the delicacy populary known as idrijski žlikrofi. It is a bit similar to ravioli stuffed with potato and chives.