Idrija (pronounced [ˈiːdɾija] (listen), in older sources Zgornja Idrija;[2] German: (Ober)idria,[2][3] Italian: Idria) is a town in western Slovenia. It is the seat of the Municipality of Idrija. It is located in the traditional region of Inner Carniola and is in the Gorizia Statistical Region. It is notable for its mercury mine with stores and infrastructure, as well as miners' living quarters, and a miners' theatre. Together with the Spanish mine at Almadén, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012.[4] In 2011, Idrija was given the Alpine Town of the Year award.

View of Idrija and its town center
View of Idrija and its town center
Idrija is located in Slovenia
Location in Slovenia
Coordinates: 46°00′09″N 14°01′39″E / 46.00250°N 14.02750°E / 46.00250; 14.02750Coordinates: 46°00′09″N 14°01′39″E / 46.00250°N 14.02750°E / 46.00250; 14.02750
Country Slovenia
Traditional regionInner Carniola
Statistical regionGorizia
 • Total13.1 km2 (5.1 sq mi)
334.5 m (1,097.4 ft)
 • Total5,878
Vehicle registrationGO
Official nameHeritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija
Criteriaii, iv
Designated2012 (36th session)
Reference no.1313
State PartySlovenia
RegionEurope and North America


View of the Idrijca River from St. Anthony's Church

The town of Idrija lies in the Idrija Basin, surrounded by the Idrija Hills. It is traversed by the Idrijca River, which is joined there by Nikova Creek. It includes the hamlets of Brusovše, Cegovnica, Prenjuta, and Žabja Vas close to the town center, as well as the more outlying hamlets of Češnjice, Ljubevč, Kovačev Rovt, Marof, Mokraška Vas, Podroteja, Razpotje, Staje, and Zahoda. The Marof hydroelectric plant is located on the Idrijca River on the northern outskirts of Idrija, between Marof and Mokraška Vas. Springs in the area include Podroteja Spring[5] and Wild Lake on the Idrijca River south of the town.


Mercury was discovered in Idrija (known as Idria under Austrian rule) in the late 15th century (various sources cite 1490,[6][7][8] 1492,[9][10] and 1497[6][8]). To support the mining activities, Gewerkenegg Castle was constructed between 1522 and 1533 by the mine owners.[11] Mining operations were taken over by the government in 1580. The mineral idrialite, discovered here in 1832, is named after the town.

Anthony's Shaft, mine entrance
Inside the mine
Idrija mercury mine


According to legend, a bucket maker working in a local spring spotted a small amount of liquid mercury over 500 years ago. Idrija is one of the few places in the world where mercury occurs in both its elemental liquid state and as cinnabar (mercury sulfide) ore. The subterranean shaft mine entrance known as Anthony's Shaft (Antonijev rov) is used today for tours of the upper levels, complete with life-sized depictions of workers over the ages. The lower levels, which extend to almost 400 meters below the surface and are no longer being actively mined, are currently being cleaned up.


The parish church in the town is dedicated to Saint Joseph the Worker and belongs to the Diocese of Koper. There are three other churches in Idrija, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, Saint Anthony of Padua, and Our Lady of Sorrows.[12]

Notable peopleEdit

Notable people that were born or lived in Idrija include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia
  2. ^ a b Leksikon občin kraljestev in dežel zastopanih v državnem zboru, vol. 6: Kranjsko. Vienna: C. Kr. Dvorna in Državna Tiskarna. 1906. pp. 124–125.
  3. ^ Spezialkarte der Österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie 1:75.000 Bischoflack und Oberidria (Map). Vienna: Militärgeographisches Institut. 1880. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  4. ^ Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija - UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  5. ^ "Podroteja I – Idrijca". Hidrološki podatki. Agencija Republike Slovenije za okolje. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Arko, Mihael. 1931. Zgodovina Idrije: po raznih arhivalnih in drugih virih. Ljubljana: Katoliška knjigarna, p. 1.
  7. ^ Savnik, Roman, ed. 1968. Krajevni leksikon Slovenije, vol. 1. Ljubljana: Državna založba Slovenije, p. 70.
  8. ^ a b Kmecl, Matjaž. 1981. Treasures of Slovenia. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, p. 262.
  9. ^ Budkovič, Tomaž, Robert Šajn, & Mateja Gosar. 2003. "Vpliv delujočih in opuščenih rudnikov kovin in topilniških obratov na okolje v Sloveniji ." Geologija 46(1): 135–140, p. 136.
  10. ^ Svetličič, Marjan, & Matija Rojec. 2000. "Kolektor." In Saul Estrin et al. (eds.), Foreign Direct Investment in Central Eastern Europe, pp. 3–28. New York: M. E. Sharpe, p. 3.
  11. ^ "Top 10 attractions".
  12. ^ Koper Diocese list of churches Archived 2009-03-06 at the Wayback Machine


External linksEdit