LAKE BLED – PEARL OF THE JULIAN ALPS

The coat of arms of the city of Bled could be described as a perfect postcard, depicting Lake Bled with the island and the church, as well as the city’s promontory.

THE PAGAN BEGINNINGS

The island of Bled is enveloped by the myth of the Ziva goddess of nature, fertility and harvest. The legend says that there is a temple dedicated to the goddess, served by priest Staroslav, his daughter, Bogomila and Crtomir.

The temple was destroyed in the struggle between pagans and Christians who built an altar and a church. Bogomila stayed with her father in the new church, while Crtomir was baptized near the Savica waterfall. He traveled to Aquilea (Italy) where the patriarch

Aquilean called his missionary among the Slovenes. The story could have a bit of truth, because archaeologists have discovered on the island traces of a pre-Christian slave settlement.

Lake BledGENERAL DATA

  • Name – Lake Bled
  • Location – Slovenia; Gorenjska region, Bled district
  • Surface – 1,44 sq. Km
  • Maximum depth – 30.6 m
  • Altitude – 475 m above sea level
  • The Chain – the Julian Alps
  • A sanctuary on the island

The first church on the island was a three-nave Romanic basilica. In the sec. XV was rebuilt in Gothic style in 1509 to be destroyed by an earthquake.

The present form of the Pilgrimage Church The Assumption of the Mother of God dates from the sec. XVII, when it was renovated in Baroque style. The main altar owns a central piece representing Virgin Mary and dates back to 1747.

The bell, dating back to the sec. XV, is 54 m high and houses three bells in its tower. The tower has been renovated several times over the centuries. Once on Bled Island, there are 99 steps to the church.

There is a local tradition according to which the brides wear their brides in their arms on the 99th stage. The bride must remain silent for the two to have happiness in the future.

Did you know?
The Assumption Church is famous for the so-called Bell of Desires, which has attracted pilgrims over the centuries.

Forged by Patavino in Padua in 1534, the bell was on the upper beam of the roof above the church nave.

The Legend says that your desire will be fulfilled if you beat the Bell of Wishes in honor of the Mother of God. The flow of tourists and cloaks is constant, although the bell can be heard all day.

A FORTRESS WATCHTOWER

A verdant, limestone promontory overlooking Lake Bled is the site of Slovenia’s oldest fortress.

The medieval fortress was built around a solitary Romanic tower and is sheltered by the outer walls with a Gothic arch and has a mobile bridge, over a ditch, today closed.

Other buildings were built during the Baroque period and were disposed around two courtyards: a smaller one for annexed buildings, above it, with dwellings.The most interesting of all preserved buildings is definitely the chapel in the upper court, dedicated to the bishops of St. Albuin and St. Ingenium.

The chapel was built in the 19th century. XVI and renovated in the Baroque style around 1700, when it was also painted with illusionist frescoes. Today, the fortress is a lay edifice and hosts a museum that presents the story of the city and the region.

PLACES TO VISIT

  • The Vintgar Gorges are a narrow passage through which the Radovna River passes 1.6 km long, ending in the enchanting Sum, the largest waterfall in Slovenia.
  • Another great view is Babji Zob’s tooth-shaped pillars, located on a 1,128-meter-high peak. Visiting the Babji Zob caves involves an hour’s climb to the cave entrance. With only 300 m in length, it is not an extended cave system but possesses rare helictite groups.

Did you know?
Lake Bled is a center of excellence in canoeing and has hosted the world boating championships four times, most recently in 2011.

THERMAL SPRINGS

The resort consists of three covered swimming pools, fed by thermal water springs. The spring water has a constant temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (in two of the water swimming pools it is heated up to 28 degrees Celsius).

The chemical composition has been subjected to repeated testing. 10 liters of water in the Bled springs contain 1.520 cubic cubic meters of carbonic acid, as well as plenty of mineral salts.

Other elements are iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, sulfur and sodium.The bath in the thermal pools, together with the subalpine mild climate, are favorable for the treatment of cortical diseases such as rheumatism, anemia and cardiovascular diseases.

The sunbathing and tranquil walks along the Arnold Rikli trails are also considered to be beneficial.

HEALING WATERS

The first travelers who discovered the relaxing and healing properties of the nearby thermal springs were pilgrims traveling to St. Mary’s Church on Bled Island, located in the middle of Lake Bled.

However, the resort was established only at the end of the 19th century. XIX, when Swiss doctor Arnold Rikli created baths, accommodation, a hospital, and walking routes.

Soon, the news of the healing waters of Lake Bled spread around the world. In the interwar period, the resort became well-known as the summer residence of the Karadzordezevici family, the royal family of Yugoslavia.

During the Communist era, Marshal Tito regularly spent his holidays here: his villa was transformed into a luxury hotel and his room is today the hotel’s presidential suite.

TURQUOISE WATERS

Lake Bled is in the shadow of the highest peak in Slovenia, Triglav, 2,864 m above sea level. The lake has a length of 2.120 m and a width of 1.380 m, its maximum depth being 30.6 m.

After the last glaciation, the Bohinj glacier deepened the natural tectonic depression, giving it its current form.

The basin was then filled with water when the gout melted. Without any natural affluent, the lake is powered by just a few springs. The springs on its northeast flow into three open pools. The lake’s waters are turquoise.

5 FASCINATING THINGS

  • Empress Maria Teresa gave concessions to 20 families in the village, allowing them to carry passengers on the island of Bled with boats. Today, this concession is still transmitted from father to son.
  • In Bled Castle there is a Gutenberg print press, rebuilt, which prints commemorative certificates.
  • Bled lived Josip Plemelj (1873-1967), a mathematician and the first rector of the University of Ljubljana.
  • Bled cake with cream is a known delicacy all over the world.
  • Tourists can go along the Bled Lake, along the shoreline. They can also claim to go by boat on the lake or fly with the hot air balloon.