“Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija” was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage list in 2012. The property includes the mining sites of Almadén (Spain), where mercury (quicksilver) has been extracted since antiquity, and Idrija (Slovenia), where mercury was first found in 1490. The sites bear testimony to the intercontinental trade in mercury which generated important exchanges between Europe and America over the centuries. Together they represent the two largest mercury mines in the world, operational until recent times. Idrija, the oldest mining town in Slovenia, lies above the second largest mercury ore deposit on the globe. For 500 years, Idrija’s history and the fate of its inhabitants were shaped by mercury – a relatively rare metal and the only one that is liquid at room temperature. The site in Idrija notably features mercury stores and infrastructure, as well as miners’ living quarters, and a miners’ theatre. The heritage of Idrija inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List comprises the heritage of the mine and mining activities in the broadest sense of the word: the mercury ore deposit, underground shafts and galleries, mine entrance buildings, administrative buildings, smelting plant, mercury and wheat storehouses, residential houses, school buildings, churches, and the paths along which mercury was transported abroad. There are three main managers of the world heritage properties in Idrija, the Municipality of Idrija, Idrija Mercury Heritage Management Centre and Idrija Municipal Museum as well as the Parish of Idrija and some private owners. The local management system exists, and the overarching International Committee for the coordination of the serial property functions satisfactorily.
Idrija Mercury Heritage Management Centre was established in 2011 by the Slovenian Government as a public institute for the purpose of ensuring the integrated and sustainable management of cultural heritage and natural values related to the Idrija mercury deposit in Idrija as well as for the maintenance of the unflooded part of the underground mine and monitoring the consequences of 500 years of mining on the town of Idrija, its habitants and sourrindings after the closure of the company Idrija Mercury Mine, Ltd. in 2017.