Heritage Needs Youthful Energy  

Bringing cultural heritage closer to younger generations is one of the fundamental activities of the Idrija 2020 Association and the ID20 Institute. An essential part of this is represented by our activities in the field of built heritage, where we have been working for many years to spread understanding, especially of the typology of the co-called Idrija Miners’ Houses, an architectural endemic of the mining town Idrija. The Youthful Heritage project, the latest in this series, proves that Idrija's traditional architecture is gaining recognition - even among young people internationally.

The Youthful Heritage project is a part of a larger European Solidarity Corps organised in Idrija between June 25 and July 5, 2022, bringing together a group of 12 young people from three continents. We set ourselves the goal of connecting Idrija's rich cultural heritage with the energy and fresh ideas from a younger team of international volunteers who stayed and worked in Idrija for three weeks. In addition to participating in various activities for the protection and interpretation of cultural heritage at two exciting locations - at the miners’ house Giser and the Jožef Shaft, the young people actively got to know Idrija and Slovenia, made new acquaintances, and learned about different cultures.

This year, the volunteer activity was designed more broadly, as we collaborated with the Youth Center Idrija, which, among other things, ensured greater involvement of young volunteers in the local environment. In addition to the partnership with the Youth Center, we are particularly pleased with the cooperation of the Municipality of Idrija. They brought the project even more relevance as they enabled young people to get to know the largest abandoned mining facility in Idrija, the Jožef Shaft, which once connected all 15 horizons of the Idrija mine. The three project partners thus provided young people from the Czech Republic, Egypt, the Philippines, France, Norway, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Sweden with a real authentic experience full of new knowledge.

Group photo during a visit to Šturmajce, a homestead in Kanomlja.

Work, but Also Learning

Many exciting things happened during the volunteers’ intense three weeks in Idrija. The first few days were dedicated to getting to know each other and the new environment, alongside exploring the rich cultural heritage of Idrija. Since the start of the voluntary activity coincided precisely with the Idrija Lace Festival, the young people had the opportunity to experience that the former mining town breathes its tradition at every step and nurtures it for future generations. After the introductory meeting, there was work at the up-until recently abandoned house Giser, where volunteers helped with the maintenance of the surroundings, renovation of old furniture and masonry work. One of the highlights of the first working week was an excursion to Kanomlja, where members of the TKD Kanomlja opened the doors of the historic Šturmajce homestead. Under the watchful supervision of experienced women from TKD Kanomalja, the volunteers made bread and the traditional dumplings from Idrija called žlikrofi.

The renovation of the old furniture took place in the company of the Jugošik team from Ljubljana.

The following week, we went to the former Jožef shaft, where we took care of the renovation of the outdoor venue, sorted old objects and cleaned the former blacksmith's area. During our visit to Jožef shaft, under the guidance of the KreaVita Institute, we took part in a workshop to get to know edible wild plants and prepared lunch from what we gathered in the area. Despite the intense schedule, there was still enough time for refreshing visits to Idrijska Bela, a beautiful nature reserve near Idrija, and numerous trips around Slovenia to discover our most famous touristic sights.

The team of volunteers was satisfied with their work.

Day of Miners’ Houses

The culmination of the three-week voluntary activity Youthful Heritage was organising the third Day of Miners Houses on July 1 at the Giser house. At the event, the volunteers had the opportunity to present their work. They invested much energy in preparing a small exhibition about the characteristics of traditional buildings in Idrija and the history of the Giser house. The gathering lasted until dusk and was accompanied by a musical performance by Spanish volunteer Salva Soto.

The Day of Miners Houses was held next to the Giser house.

Activities in the Field of Built Heritage Have Been Running for the Fifth Year

The Youthful Heritage project did not grow from scratch. At Idrija 2020 Association and ID20 Institute, we have been systematically dealing with the field of folk architecture in Idrija and its promotion since 2018. Ever since we started the Renovation of Idrija Miners Houses project four years ago, part of our work has always been devoted to built heritage. In spring 2021, we further upgraded our efforts by purchasing the abandoned Giser house.

Did You Know

  • that we have dedicated a unique website to Idrija's architectural heritage, where much interesting information, tips and photo collections are gathered? You are invited to visit it at www.rudarske-hise.si;
  • that in Idrija, in addition to traditional miners’ houses, we also boast fascinating workers' apartment blocks, the so-called prhavzi? We dedicated a special catalogue to Miners’ Streets in Idrija;
  • that the miners’ house on Bazoviška street on 4 July 2020 hosted a writer's residency, which we prepared together with partners from Založba Bogataj and the City Museum of Idrija? The youth novel "Above horizons" written by Mateja Perpar invites the young and a little less young to read;
  • that we have collected records and videos from our first volunteer activity at the Giser house in 2021 in a unique online brochure? Click on the link to access the online brochure;
  • that we have gathered concrete instructions for renovating the miners’ houses in one place? They are available in the brochure "How to renovate an Idrija mining house";
  • that in cooperation with Kajža, we dedicated an online course to renovating old houses? It is available on our heritage portal Duri.