Monday, 14 May 2018

Underworld of the only liquid metal on the planet

Can you guess what I mean?
Walk through the Anthony's main road which is the entrance for visitors to the underground of the mercury mine in Idrija. I probably don't need to say specifically that the mine is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In front of the pit, there is a large Šelštev building which used to be a calling room which means that they checked the presence of the miners there, made a short prayer with a plea for a happy and safe work after which they were given their daily assignments. It included, among other things apartments from the employees in the mine. The famous Slovenian engineer Stanko Bloudek was born there.

Foto: Jani Peternelj, Fototeka:
Antony's Main Road from the year 1500 is one of the oldest preserved entrances into a mine on the oldest continent and thus also the oldest part of the mine in Idrija. Don't be afraid if the dwarf Perkmandlc is in the cave! He liked to dig ore, tease the miners and sometimes he even showed the miners where to dig ore. Children will learn about the various mining professions here and with a bit of luck they can also find the Perkmandlc's treasure. You'll witness the stories of the hard life of miners and you can see a unique underground chapel. There are also statues as miners' patron saints: St. Barbara and St. Ahatius. With the HI card you're entitled to a student discount.

Prepare to walk about 1200 m on a pleasant 13°C in one hour. When buying a combined ticket for the Anthony's main road and the Hg smelting plant, you get an 11% discount.

Foto: Samo Trebižan, Fototeka:
If I talk about mercury so much, I can tell you more about it, right? They used it for all sorts of things. From extracting gold and treating diseases to measuring the temperature and predicting weather. Working with it brought us Nobel prize winners. The experiments with it gave us the basis of modern chemistry and we're using it in space exploration. Nowadays due to its toxic characteristics it's used less. Through the centuries combustion engineers in Idrija also refined the burning furnaces for the smelting of ore. With the help of experiments and interactive games, you'll learn more about the importance and usage of liquid metal in many areas of life to this day.

Foto: M. Lenarčič, Fototeka:
To best anchor the freshly gained museum knowledge in your heads and to unwind, I recommend staying in the Idrija hostel. It lies atop a hill above the city where a bed awaits you for only 9€/night. The closest cafes to seize the day are only 5 minutes away by foot. They offer you free bed linen, a towel, as well as free internet and parking. If booked in advance, an all-inclusive package is a great deal. If you decide to become their guest, remember that you get a 10% discount with the HI Slovenia membership card. 

As far as I know my closest contact with mercury was when I smashed the thermometer with it. I got really scared about that because it's poisonous but fortunately I quickly got rid of the mess. Who doesn't have at least a bit of it in the dental amalgam fillings, for which some people say harm us while others say they're safe. If my dentist didn't really know how to answer to this question, who can?


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