Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bled Island in Slovenia

Bled is a town and a municipality in Slovenia, and like most European towns, is a popular tourist destination for its scenic beauty. The town is particularly popular for the glacial Lake Bled.

The lake is situated in a picturesque environment, surrounded by mountains of the Julian Alps and lush green forests. In the middle of the lake is Slovenia’s only natural island. The island has several buildings, the main one being the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary, built in the 15th century. Its majestic 52 meter tower has a grand stairway consisting of 99 steps leading up to the top of the building. The church is most commonly used as a wedding venue because of its scenic location and the natural attraction of the place. There are several other notable buildings on the island, but the Pilgrimage Church tops the list, as the most elegant of all the buildings on this fairytale island of Bled.

Despite being tiny in size, Bled Island has attracted humans since the prehistoric ages. Archeologists have discovered traces of prehistoric human settlements dating back to the 11th century BC. In the early Middle Ages there was a pre-Christian, probably Old Slavic cult area in the location of the present day church. On the island 124 graves with skeletons from the 9th to the 11th century were also found.

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According to written sources, the first masonry church on the island, a three-naved Romanesque basilica, was consecrated by the Aquilean patriarch Pellegrino in 1142. In the 15th century, it was rebuilt in the Gothic style: a new presbytery, a freestanding bell tower and the main altar were built. The church's present form is from the 17th century when it was renovated after another earthquake.

Bled Lake is also very popular among rowing enthusiasts who like to row in its serene and calm waters. It has also been host to several World Rowing Championships.

Another popular attraction near Lake Bled is the iconic Bled Castle perched on a precipice overlooking Lake Bled. According to written sources, it is the oldest Slovenian castle and is currently one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovenia.

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Lake Bled

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Sources: 1, 2, 3

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