Antonijev Rov

Anthony's Shaft - Anthony's Main Road - Rudnik živega srebra Idrija - Idrija Mercury Mine


Useful Information

Location: Idrija. Lubljana-Trieste motorway exit Unec or Logatec. From Unec to Planina, turn right to Kalce. Logatec follow the main highway to the west to Kalce. At Kalce turn northeast to Idrija.
Open: JAN to FEB Sat, Sun, Hol 10, 15.
MAR to APR daily 10, 15, Sat, Sun, Hol 16.
MAY to JUN daily 10, 12, 14, 15, Sat, Sun, Hol 16.
JUL to AUG daily 10, 12, 14, 15, 16.
SEP daily 10, 12, 14, 15, Sat, Sun, Hol 16.
OCT to NOV daily 10, 15, Sat, Sun, Hol 16.
DEC daily 10, Sat, Sun, Hol 15.
[2019]
Fee: Anthony's Main Road: Adults EUR 13, Children (6-15) EUR 6, Children (3-5) EUR 2, Seniors EUR 10, Students (16-16) EUR 10.
Hg Smelting Plant: Adults EUR 8, Children (6-15) EUR 3, Children (0-5) EUR 1.50, Seniors EUR 6, Students (16-16) EUR 6.
combined ticket: Adults EUR 18, Children (6-15) EUR 8, Seniors EUR 14, Students (16-16) EUR 14.
[2019]
Classification: ExplainMercury Mine
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=700,000m, VR=426m, T=13°C.
Guided tours: L=1200m, VR=96m, D=90min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Antonijev Rov, Kosovelova 3, Idrija, 5280 Slovenia, Tel: +386-5-3771142, Tel: +386-31-810194. E-mail:
Idrija Mercury Mine, Prelovceva 9, 65200 Idrija, Slovenia, Tel: +386-5-3771162, Fax: 386-5-3771142.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1490 Mining began.
18th century underground chapel built.
1990 opened to the public.

Description

Antonijev Rov (Anthony Main Tunnel) is a section of the worlds second largest mercury mine. The mercury was found in form of red cinnabar ore (mercury sulfide, HgS), which contains a high amount of mercury. Sometimes mercury is found in its pure form. Natural deposits of mercury are rather rare, and it is not necessary to burn this mercury as it is already pure. But unfortunately it is also very dangerous for the miner, as mercury slowly evaporates, even at the low temperatures of the mine, and so there is always mercury in the air which causes a dangerous poisoning. The miners very often got this poisoning which meant brain damages, muscle damages, loss of hair and teeth and heavy pains. Mercury is not secreted by the body so this poisonings were lethal in all cases.

The tour through the mine starts with an introductory slide show about the geology and the history of the mine. It is available in several languages. Then the visitor gets a green and black overcoat and a helmet. Equipped like that the Antonijev Rov is entered through one of the oldest preserved mine entrances in the world. It was dug in 1500, only a decade after the discovery of the mercury. The mine itself shows mining tools from 500 years of history, like the Kamst, a 200 year-old mine pump, driven by water. There is also the mine chapel Chapel of the Holy Trinity from the 18th century. The miners said a prayer in front of the statues of the patrons St. Achacius and St. Barbara before entering the mine down Attems’ Shaft.

The mine has a lot of nice minerals, cinnabar, metacinnabar, epsomite and idrialite. Idrialite (C22H14) was named after the town as it was first described in Idrija, its type locale, in 1832. The brown, yellow or green crystals are rather small and only visible with a magnifying glass, but they start to fluorescent in green or blue under ultra-violet light. But most impressive are still the drops of pure mercury which can be seen on the wall in crevices and cracks. They are not fully natural, but a result of a mine fire, which heated the cinnabar above 356.7°C and thus the mercury was vaporized. The poisonous mercury gas killed many miners but when the mercury condensed it formed those drops.

In its heyday this was the world's largest mercury mine. Today it has been re-opened for visitors. The underground tour begins in the changing rooms where the miners used to gather before descending into the depths. Here you will be shown a multi-vision slide presentation on the origin of one of the most famous mines in the world, the exceptional geological structure of the ore deposit, as well as the development of the town and the mine through the centuries. After changing into the classic miner's costume - a green / black overcoat and helmet, you will be sent off into the underworld with the hearty miner's greeting SREéNO or Good Luck!

Displays include mining activities though five centuries, and a visit to the Mine Chapel of the Holy Trinity, You will also encounter globules of the only liquid metal which is oozing out of the bright red cinnabar ore.

Children will enjoy the encounter with the teasing pit elf. The descent into the deeper parts of the mine, with sound of rumbling of the mining machinery will make this a trip to remember. A circular route leads one back to the entrance. Walking boots are recommended.

Text by Tony Oldham (2001). With kind permission.