If you are visiting Slovenia, you should not miss out on one of the most amazing, iconic places in this country: the city of Bled. The city comes with a magnificent lake that surrounds a small island; and on the island, there is a dreamy castle: Bled Castle.
Bled Castle is the oldest Slovenian castle, with first proofs of existence dating back to the year 1011. It is located on a 130-meter high cliff above Lake Bled and offers amazing views of the lake, city, mountains and picturesque landscapes.
The castle building has been completely renovated with its baroque room and it now houses a museum dedicated to the eventful history of the castle itself as well as its surroundings. The museum’s permanent exhibition is part of the Slovenian National Museum Exhibition and includes finding from the Blejski Kot as well as its geological description, environment, and development.
Archeological findings are displayed as well, among them is an amazing 6th century find: a peacock-shaped brooch. Peacocks are known as the birds of paradise and as symbols of life and wealth – it is said this is the reason why Bled is so marvelous.
You will find some other interesting buildings located in the lower courtyard: a castle printing workshop, a wine cellar, the castle forge and the castle chapel.
Castle Printing workshop is definitely the kids’ favorite. Let them try printing out their own certificate on a reconstruction of the first wooden printing press machine in the world. Art lovers will enjoy the castle forge with modern and functional sculptures as well as products made of iron, and the castle chapel with its preserved baroque vaults and illusionistic frescoes.
If you want to bring home a really unique souvenir, visit the castle’s wine cellar, where you can fill wine bottles with wine from the oak barrels. There is no gift that could match a great Slovenian wine.
History and Legend of the Sunken Bell
Interestingly, Bled Castle was built and owned by the Bishops of Brixes, but they never really lived here. It was uninhabited for years before the first leaseholder Konrad von Kreigh and his family came to live in it. The family and their successors remained in it for more than 200 years and a lot of legends are connected with their stay. The most famous one is the Legend of the Sunken Bell:
At one time, somewhere in the 15th century, the castle belonged to a brutal king who was not the nicest master and the farmers were complaining about his ruling. One day, the king disappeared without a trace, leaving behind a devastating widow, Poliksena. She decided she wanted to make something for her disappeared husband and she gathered all the gold in the land and had a bell cast created from it to be put in the small church on the Island on Lake Bled. When the boatmen were taking the bell to the island, a huge storm broke out, sinking the boat and everything in it, including the boatmen and the cast.
Devastated, Poliksena left to Rome to join a convent. When the pope heard her story, he had a new bell made and sent it to the island. Some people say the bell on the mud floor of the lake can still be heard, calling the king to return to his wife. Once a year, on Christmas Day, the event is known as “The Legend of the Sunken Bell” takes place in Bled.
Bled castle can be reached by foot, with a short walk from the Bled City centre or by car. There is a big parking lot located in front of the castle.