Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija

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Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Antonijev rov, mine entrance in Idrija
CriteriaCultural: (ii), (iv)
Inscription2012 (36th Session)
Area104.1 ha (257 acres)
Coordinates38°46′31″N 4°50′20″W / 38.77528°N 4.83889°W / 38.77528; -4.83889Coordinates: 38°46′31″N 4°50′20″W / 38.77528°N 4.83889°W / 38.77528; -4.83889
Almadén and Idrija in Europe

Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija is a joint UNESCO World Heritage site in Almadén, Castile-La Mancha, Spain, and Idrija, Slovenia. The property encompasses two mercury mining sites. In Almadén mercury has been extracted since Antiquity, while in Idrija it was first found in 1490.[1]

The sites bear testimony to the intercontinental trade in mercury which generated important exchanges between Europe and America over the centuries. The two sites represent the two largest mercury mines in the world and were operational until recent times. Mercury played an important role in extracting gold and silver from ores, dug in American mines. In addition, both sites illustrate the various industrial, territorial, urban and social elements of a specific sociotechnical system in the mining and metal production industries.[1]

At the heart of the Almadén site is a Mining Park, where the public can go underground.[2] There are also buildings relating to the town´s mining history, including Retamar Castle,[3] the San Rafael Mining Hospital (now an archive), and eighteenth-century dwellings which form a hexagonal bullring.[4]

The site in Idrija notably features mercury stores and infrastructure, as well as miners’ living quarters, and a miners’ theatre.

Nomination process[edit]

Interior of one of the Almadén's mines

Idrija begun the process to inscribe the mercury heritage to the UNESCO's heritage list in 2006.[5] Initially, the nomination was made together with Huancavelica mercury mine in Peru, in relation to the intercontinental route Camino Real. In the second stage, a nomination focused on mercury heritage in relation to silver mining, together with San Luis Potosí mine in Mexico - however, the nomination did not gather sufficient support. The third, successful stage of the nomination focused on mercury mining in relation to technological and industrial processes that influenced the economical and cultural development of the two regions.[6]

List of registered monuments[edit]

Furnace of Bustamante of the mines of Almadén.
Headframe of the mines of Almadén.
Building of the pump in Idrija.

The elements of the "Mercury Heritage" are the following:[7]


Code Name Location Protection zone Coordinates
1313rev-001 Old town of Almadén Almadén 48.98 ha 38°46′31″N 4°50′37″W / 38.775278°N 4.843611°W / 38.775278; -4.843611 (Almadén - Vieille ville)
1313rev-002 Buildings of the Castle's Mine Almadén 0,22 ha 38°46′21″N 4°50′23″W / 38.772500°N 4.839722°W / 38.772500; -4.839722 (Bâtiments de la Mine del Castillo)
1313rev-003 Royal Prison of forced labor Almadén 0.11 ha 38°46′19″N 4°50′03″W / 38.771806°N 4.834167°W / 38.771806; -4.834167 (Royal Forced Labour Gaol)
1313rev-004 Hospital Real de San Rafael (children) Almadén 0.10 ha 38°46′22″N 4°49′53″W / 38.772778°N 4.831389°W / 38.772778; -4.831389 (Hôpital royal San Rafael pour mineurs)
1313rev-005 Bullring Almadén 0.25 ha 38°46′30″N 4°49′47″W / 38.775091°N 4.829682°W / 38.775091; -4.829682 (Bullring)


Code Name Location Protection zone Coordinates
1313rev-006 Old town of Idrija Idrija 47.33 ha 46°00′14″N 14°01′36″E / 46.003889°N 14.026667°E / 46.003889; 14.026667 (Vieille ville d'Idrija)
1313rev-007 Foundry Idrija 0.60 ha 46°00′25″N 14°01′52″E / 46.006944°N 14.031111°E / 46.006944; 14.031111 (Idrija – Smelting Plant)
1313rev-008 Kamšt pump with water channel and tank (Kobila) Idrija 1.61 ha 45°59′56″N 14°01′51″E / 45.998889°N 14.030833°E / 45.998889; 14.030833 (Idrija – Kamšt water pump with the Rake water channel and Kobila dam)
1313rev-009 Water tank Idrija 0.71 ha 46°01′04″N 13°56′22″E / 46.017778°N 13.939444°E / 46.017778; 13.939444 (Gorenja Kanomlja – Kanomilja or Ovcjak Water Barrier)
1313rev-010 Idrija Lagoon Idrija 1.21 ha 46°00′10″N 13°55′12″E / 46.002778°N 13.920000°E / 46.002778; 13.920000 (Vojsko – Idrijca Water Barrier)
1313rev-011 Putrih Reservoir on the Belca River Idrija 0.49 ha 45°58′34″N 13°56′01″E / 45.976111°N 13.933611°E / 45.976111; 13.933611 (Idrijska Bela – Putrih’s Water Barrier on the Belca creek)
1313rev-012 Brus Reservoir on the Belca River Idrija 2.49 ha 45°58′13″N 13°57′08″E / 45.970278°N 13.952222°E / 45.970278; 13.952222 (Idrijska Bela – Belca Water Barrier on the Belca creek (or Brus`s Water Barrier))


  1. ^ a b Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija - UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  2. ^ "Mining Park". Tourist Office of Rios EVA Mancomunidad. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  3. ^ "Retamar Castle". Tourist Office of Rios EVA Mancomunidad. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Bullring". Tourist office of Rios EVA Mancomunidad. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  5. ^ Občina Idrija - Dediščina živega srebra Archived 2012-06-27 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Rudnik živega srebra Idrija zapisan na Unescov seznam :: Prvi interaktivni multimedijski portal, MMC RTV Slovenija
  7. ^ Fuente: Unesco

See also[edit]