Idrija In Your Pocket

If you mention the name Idrija to most Slovenes, two words immediately come to mind (mercury and lace), perhaps followed shortly thereafter by a third (žlikrofi). The discovery of the what would grow to become the world's second largest mercury mine here in 1490 led to nearly 500 years of prosperity and growth associated with the mining industry, while a unique lacemaking tradition developed amongst the wives and daughters of miners, which still continues to this day. The trifecta is rounded out by žlikrofi, a distinctive ravioli-like culinary speciality that became Slovenia's first officially protected dish in 2010.

While this would be enough to put most towns of around 12,000 residents on the map, Idrija's tourism offer goes well beyond its most famous individual elements, combining its rich historical, industrial, natural and cultural heritage into one well-organised package. Within easy driving distance from both the Mediterranean coast and the Slovene capital Ljubljana, Idrija nevertheless feels as if it's hidden away from the outside world by the three plateaus that converge around it. Thanks to this natural beauty (which includes the country's first protected natural monument) and perhaps even more so to the foresight that led local industries to diversify away from mining, Idrija was not only able to avoid the economic hardships that befell other former mining towns, but has continued to prosper as a tourist destination - the culmination of which was its designation as a European Destination of Excellence in 2011.
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