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Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija
Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija

The Spanish site consists of buildings that can define the Spanish mining history such as Retamar Castle, traditional dwellings and religious buildings.

The Heritage of Mercury is made up of 2 mining sites including the Almaden in Spain where quicksilver mercury has been mined since time immemorial and the Idrija in Slovenia were mercury was first found in 1490 AD.

The Spanish site consists of buildings that can define the Spanish mining history such as Retamar Castle, traditional dwellings and religious buildings. The Slovenian property on the other hand is notable for its mercury stores, mining infrastructure, miners’ living quarters, as well as miners’ theater.

The listed property has been in existence from the first half of the 16th century during which amalgamation processes made it possible to exploit minerals on a large scale in New Spain. Europe and Americas were closely tied together by ports and cities and thus their peoples and communication nodes ensured stability of the economic model of trading monopolies that helped entrench the Spanish Monarchy in all areas conquered and colonized by Spain.

This phenomenon of integration marked the territorial structure of America and also influenced the development of Mercury at both ends of the Atlantic Ocean…a culture that persists to date.

Mercury is a rare metal. At room temperature, the metal becomes liquid. The fact that it is produced by only a few mines around the world makes the above 2 sites even more noteworthy. The largest of these mines is Almaden in Spain and the second largest is the Idrija in Slovenia. Apart from the historical linkages, the 2 mines bear similarities in their complexes especially in the way in which the population responded to the difficult living conditions of mercury production. Apparently, there were myriads of technical and scientific challenges that had to be surmounted before the rare metal could be successfully exploited.

The two complexes boast similar sets of assets and properties that are used in Mercury mining; including the engineering methods and related industrial and technical development that traces its roots to the Roman Empire.

This Mercury mining UNESCO listed World Heritage Property is worth your visit during your stay in Spain. Get to know how the mercury that is found in the thermometers get mined and used on industrial scale.