The Mercury mine in Idrija is the second largest mercury mine in the world. It is not operating and a few parts have been transformed into tourist objects which represent the mining history of this town in an educational and amusing way.
Anthony’s Shaft is no doubt one of the most interesting and fun tourist attractions in Idrija. Fun is guaranteed, for kids who can go on a hunt for mine draft Prekmandlc, and for adults who will be able to become miners for a day.
Your mining experience will start in the Šelštev, the entrance building to Anthony’s Shaft. The building was once a register office and doctor’s office, with some additional apartments for mine workers. This building is the oldest still preserved entrance into a mine in Europe dating back to 1500.
A typical day for miners began by checking in at the register office and heading down into Anthony’s Shaft with other miners. Then they started their way down, to more than 700 kilometers long and more than 300-meter deep mine. Usually, they stopped in the mining chapel, dedicated to their patron saints St. Barbara and St. Achatius.
If you are keen to know more about the miners and their work, do not miss out the opportunity to visit the mine. You will be able to dress like a miner and start your way into the deep black parts of the mine. There, you will get to know the manual ore excavation process, see how the ore was loaded on in carts and how the carts were transported out of the mine.
You can choose from different lengths of the mining tour and there is even a nice adventure especially for the kids.
Mining in Idrija
Mercury was discovered in Idrija in about 1490 by a tub maker as he was soaking a wooden bucket in the steam. Today, the church of the Holy Trinity stands on the spot where the tub maker made the discovery.
In 1508, the second great discovery was made – a highly mineralised cinnabar – discovered on the day of St. Achacius, which was then chosen as their patron. Now, 22 June is the official celebration of miners.
Ore deposits were also found in Idrija and the mineral idrialit was first described in Idrija.
Alchemists were convinced that all metals were derived from mercury and sulphur and that these two elements could be used to make gold and the philosopher’s stone.
Mining had a huge effect on everyday life in this small town for many centuries. It was one of the most well-known towns and workers from many countries moved here to get the chance to work in the mine. Idrija was also known as one of the most technically improved and modern mines in the world and it still has a lot of unique machines that cannot be seen anywhere in the world.
Cross the Mestni trg square and then the Ahacijev trg square. The building is just opposite to the Ahacijev trg square, across the bridge.