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sreda, 13 mart 2013 14:22

Bled – Heaven in the Julian Alps

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Due to its romantic scenery and the access point to Triglav National Park, which offers numerous outdoor adventure opportunities, Bled is definitely one of the most popular tourist destinations in Slovenia.

The city, with its history spanning over more than a thousand years, offers us many interesting stories, historical sights, beautiful natural environment and a chance to taste delicious local food. The Bled Castle is one of the oldest castles in Slovenia and a place where the history of Bled begins.

When Bled and its surrounding area were given to the Bishops of Brixen in 1004, they built a castle and chose it as their permanent residence. The castle was first mentioned in 1011. Later on it was devastated by two powerful earthquakes, ransacked in a peasant uprising, and finally beautifully renovated after the Second World War.

Today, the Castle houses a permanent exhibition on the history of Bled by the Slovenian National Museum. Villa Bled, built in 1947, is mostly known for being a residence of the Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito, who hosted several important foreign statesmen there. Before the Second World War, the palace of Karađorđević Yugoslav royal family was situated on the same location. The villa is located in a part of Bled called Mlino, famous as a port for Bled flat-bottomed wooden boats called Pletne. From there you can take a ride from the shore of the lake straight to the island.

Lake Bled is a glacial lake, around 14,000 years old. When you get to the island from its shore, 99 steps will guide you to the top of the island on which the Church of Assumption is located. The current building was built in the Baroque style in 17th century, although the first temple on the island was built in the in 9th century by the Slavs. The temple was consecrated to Živa, the Slavic goddess of love and fertility.

In the church there is also a bell of wishes, built by Francesco Patavino from Padova in 1534. The moment you ring the bell, you have to make a specific wish and the legend says that the wish will be fulfilled. But there is a rule: you can make only one wish. According to the legend, a young widow lived on the Bled Island back in 16th century. She grieved for her deceased husband so much that she decided to give all her gold and silver to make a new bell for the chapel on the island. But when the bell was being transported to the island, the storm hit the boat and it sank together with the bell. After this misfortune, she went on a pilgrimage to Rome and said that all her belongings could be used to build a new church on the Island. After her death, the Pope sent a new bell to the church on the Bled Island. This is the story of the “Bell of Wishes”.

One of the most important personalities who lived in Bled was definitely a Swiss natural healer and physician Arnold Rikli (1823–1906). He lived in Bled for almost 50 years and was one of the first people who noticed the healing effects of natural environment in Bled. He created baths, walking paths, hiking paths, housings and also his own hospital in Bled.

When it comes to local cuisine, one thing you have to try is the traditional Bled “Kremšnita” (vanilla and cream pastry). “Kremšnita” has been a symbol of Bled cuisine for more than 60 years. The “author” of the recipe was Isztvan Lukačevič from Vojvodina, a former confectionery manager at Park Hotel in Bled.

Written by: Dani

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