Gewerkenegg Castle & Idrija Municipal Museum

  Prelovčeva 9      +386 (0)5 37 26 600     more than a year ago

Idrija's award-winning city museum is housed in the 16th-century Gewerkenegg Castle, which towers over the old town from its perch on a small hillock to the west. Built in the 1522, the castle's somewhat odd sounding name is said to have come from the old German word for 'mine' or 'mining company' (Gerwerke) and the surname of the Habsburg vice regent (Jurij Egg) who was in charge of the mine at the time of the castle's construction.

First used as a simple storage facility for wheat and mercury, the castle long-served as the administrative offices for the mine, and at various times over the centuries parts of the castle also functioned as offices for other enterprises, schools and residential quarters. Its appearance largely dates back to the mid-18th century when renovations were carried out in the Baroque style, and it was also extensively renovated in the early 1990s. It has been the home of Idrija's Municipal Museum, and music school, since 1953, which boasts a total of 26 separate exhibition rooms that cover a total space of 1300m2.

The museum's highlights include the mineralogical and petrographic collection, where among other items you can view a bowl of liquid mercury with a solid iron ball floating in it and pick up a mercury-rich chunk of cinnabar, and the Idrija lace collection, which was opened in 2008 and details the history of the city's lace production from its 17th-century beginnings all the way up to modern lace fashion by some of Slovenia's top designers. However, the single most impressive lace piece may be the large intricate tablecloth that was created by a team of 12 master lacemakers in the 1970s as a gift for Tito's wife Jovanka (which was never actually given to the Yugoslav first lady due to a dispute with the protocol office).

Other exhibitions not to be missed are the so-called Mercury Tower (which combines mining equipment with modern art), a collection of artefacts from the time of Italian and German occupation, and a fine modern art collection donated by Idrija-born Valentina Orsini Mazza. It was named the best European museum of industrial and technical heritage in 1997, and also received Slovenia's top museum prize in 2008.

In addition to the physical premises, the museum also boasts one of the most user-friendly and informative websites we've seen, which details the individual collections held at Gewerkenegg Castle as well as the separate sites it manages around Idrija (the Partisan Print Shop, Miner's House, etc).



Open 09:00-18:00.

Price/Additional Info

Admission €5, children and students €3.


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