Things to Do in Bled
- Bring comfortable walking shoes for exploring the town and its surroundings.
- Almost all of Bled’s sights can be reached on foot, although a tourist train runs around the lakeside every 45 minutes during summer.
- The path around the lake is flat, although some parts are gravel and may be difficult for wheelchair users to navigate.
The ninth‐century Bled Castle is the oldest in Slovenia, perched precariously 130 meters (426.5 feet) up on a rocky precipice overlooking the lake of the same name among the peaks of the breathtaking Julian Alps. Built as a stronghold for the aristocratic bishops of the Brixen dynasty to defend their territories from attack, its fortified Romanesque walls and ramparts today hide a largely 16th‐century Renaissance castle built after a devastating earthquake in 1511 destroyed the previous building. It is centered around a pair of courtyards, constructed in an enticing jumble of red‐roofed wine cellars, forges, servants’ quarters, mansion, a stately knight’s hall and a chapel swathed in frescoes. Today, an historical museum occupies the Baroque suites of the main house, which exhibits jewelry discovered at pagan Slavic burial pits in nearby Pristava and a noted collection of weaponry.
Marooned in the middle of its eponymous lake in the fairy-tale Julian Alps of northwest Slovenia, Bled Island is a minuscule rocky islet clad in tall beech trees and accessed by the brightly painted, two‐oared wooden pletna ferries that are peculiar to the region. The island was formed after the retreat of the last Ice Age left behind limestone moraine and today its tiny length is virtually covered with a small hermitage, a gallery and souvenir store in the former Provost’s House, and a cafe selling delicious local cream cakes, but its stellar attraction is undoubtedly the lovely Baroque Church of the Assumption, with an ornate spire peeking above all the greenery. The church is reached by an elegant flight of 99 stone steps built in 1655, but it is known that human habitation of Bled Island started long before then, with remains of pagan temples excavated there that date back to the 11th century BC.
While the romantic position of the lovely Baroque Church of the Assumption on a minuscule mound in the middle of Lake Bled is enough to attract thousands of visitors to it each year – it is one of Slovenia’s most popular wedding venues – it is also feted thanks to its internal ornamentation, 177‐foot (54‐meter) tower and dedication to the Virgin Mary. Starting out as a pagan temple many years before the advent of Christianity, the church has at various times been a small, wooden structure and a single‐aisle Gothic church, which was consecrated by the Bishop of Ljubljana in 1465. The freestanding bell tower appeared later in the same century and the church was reconstructed yet again in 1685 in its present Baroque style, with a deliciously OTT gilt‐encrusted altar and black marble and wood‐carved pulpits contrasting keenly with its serene white and cream aisles.
Things to do near Bled
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