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“Once upon a Time, before the beginning of Time, there was only an endless Sea and perpetual light and God was wandering restless over it. And one day, after bathing, the mighty Lord found a grain of sand beneath His nail. Out of that grain he created the Earth, a place where he could rest”. This is the story of Genesis according to an old Slavic legend and I want to believe that when the big sea withdrew, a paradise-like lake was formed, as the waters remained trapped in a deep crack of the Earth. Also, I feel that from time to time, I can see God soothing in the clear emerald tides of the Lake Bled. Let’s have a look together!
Lake Bled is more than a land mark; it is the cover-page of Slovenia’s travel-guides. I fell in love with it and I agree that it is one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. It lies in the Julian Alps, at an altitude of about 500 m and it was formed when Bohinj glacier melted. Its fame is also related to the national poet of the Slovenians, the Romantic France Preseren (3 December 1800 – 8 February 1849) born close to the lake. Preseren used to come to Lake Bled to get inspiration for his poems and he considered Bled a unique place, a genuine corner of Paradise. Surrounded by the Alps and forests, the lake offers a spectacular view to its visitors and all kind of attractions: elegant resorts, outdoor sports (rowing, swimming), thermal waters, fishing and cultural sites. I take a tour of the lake in a tourists’ train similar to a toy. The approximately 40-minute tour is simply beautiful, offering perspectives from different angles on the lake’s shores, on the mountains and cultural sites.
Later, I take a wonderful boat, used in Bled only, with one rower and two frames, and reach the heart of the lake, the only natural island of Slovenia, hosting the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The Church was built, according to the poem “The Baptism on the Savica” by Preseren, on the same spot where a pagan temple of Ziva, the goddess of Love, had stood from the 8th to the 11th century. This is one of the reasons why many weddings take place here (I have seen one) and the groom is expected to carry the bride on the very abrupt 99 stairs while she has to remain silent. If he drops her or she speaks they will have bad-luck. Another legend says that whoever rings the bell three times will have a wish come true. The bell was originally ordered centuries ago by a grieving widow who turned into a nun. Two versions of the bell had sunk into the lake before the Pope, learning about the good deeds of the woman, commissioned the actual one in the 17th century. People say that from once in a while they can still hear the sound of the sunk bell. I rang the bell and continued my sightseeing in Bled.
The ultimate attraction in Bled is the Castle built in the 11th century, considered to be one of the oldest of its kind in Europe to which I dedicate a full article here.