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Slovenia The land of natural and cultural sights

Slovenia is a small country in Central Europe that contains within its borders Alpine mountains, lush forests, historic cities, and a short Adriatic coastline. The superb scenery made up of forests and beautiful glacial lakes make it a hidden gem of Europe. Slovenia has many castles and fortresses as well as churches and monasteries. The fabulous beauty of Lake Bled has for centuries attracted people's attention because of its miraculous “powers”. It is a magical place, and the most famous tourist destination in Slovenia. 

Bled Island, c.1900- 1910, B. Lergetporer, National and University Library of Slovenia, CC BY-NC
Bled Island, c.1900- 1910, B. Lergetporer, National and University Library of Slovenia, CC BY-NC

The most recognisable symbol of the lake is the island with the Church of the Assumption. According to a legend, the temple of the ancient Slavic goddess of love, Živa, once stood  where the present Baroque church stands now. The temple was levelled in battles between pagans and Christians, who destroyed the altar and built a church. The church was given its present Baroque appearance in the middle of the 17th century when the Chapel of the Virgin Mary and the monumental staircase with its 99 stone steps were constructed. Tradition still has it that the groom should carry his bride up all of the 99 steps in order to get married in the island’s church.

Bled Castle, c.1900- 1910, F. Pavlin, National and University Library of Slovenia, CC BY-NC
Bled Castle, c.1900- 1910, F. Pavlin, National and University Library of Slovenia, CC BY-NC

Bled Castle offers the finest views of Bled island, the town of Bled and the wider countryside of the Gorenjska region. The castle’s history dates back to 1004 when German Emperor Henry II gave his estate at Bled to Bishop Albuin of Brixen. The distinctive feature of the castle is its double structure – the fortified centre part was the feudal lords’ residence, while the external walled buildings  were the servants’ residences. In 1511, the castle was heavily damaged by an earthquake. Later on, the castle was restored to its present appearance. Bled Castle now serves as an exhibition area. Display rooms next to the chapel present Bled’s ancient history (after the first excavations), and showcase the consecutive stages of its historical development by means of furniture and other specific artefacts. 

Bled, Hotel Malner, 1902, D. Repe, National and University Library of Slovenia, CC BY-NC
Bled, Hotel Malner, 1902, D. Repe, National and University Library of Slovenia, CC BY-NC

Bled attracted more and more people who wanted to spend their holidays in a healthy and above all beautiful environment. In 1903, Bled received the Gold Medal at a major international spa exhibition in Vienna. And in 1906, it was officially classified among the important tourist spots of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

 

You can find more postcards from Slovenia at europeana.eu.