There are places in the world that immediately transport us to atmospheres that seem straight out of a storybook. The surrounding landscape, the colors, the structures they shelter: everything seems to have been done to arouse wonder and tell us mythical and fascinating stories.
The island we are going to tell you about is proof of this. What would you think, in fact, if we told you about an alpine lake surrounded by beautiful green mountains, which welcomes on its waters a small portion of emerged land, also green and embellished by a church and a long tradition of legends? We are not describing an unreal scenario, but what you can see when you visit Bled Island.
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We are in Slovenia, in the Julian Alps, about 60 km from the capital Ljubljana. It is here that we find a place where reality has always mingled with myth. The landscape is typical of postcards. Mountains, blue water, and a small, charming teardrop-shaped island.
This is Bled, the only natural island in Slovenia , whose lush vegetation is home to the famous Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, built in the 15th century. Seen from a distance it looks almost unreal, and it is fascinating to think that to reach it you need traditional wooden boats called Pletna , equipped with a parasol and able to accommodate several people inside for the trip from the shores. from the lake to the shores of the island.
image credit: Gilad Topaz/Wikimedia
In addition to the famous bell tower which overhangs the waters of the magic lake, this religious building contains a ” secret ” which attracts many visitors each year. According to tradition, those who decide to get married here must ensure a happy and lasting marriage by carrying their future bride up the 99 steps leading to the entrance of the church. It’s not easy, of course, but some people do.
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If you lack strength, you can always count on the “treasure” of the church and the whole island: the wish bell . Legend has it that Hartmann Kreigh, a well-known feudal lord, disappeared here in the 16th century at the hands of brigands. His young widow, Poliksena, in despair at her loss, ordered the chests of the nearby castle to be opened and all the gold and silver to be melted down to make the famous bell .
image credit: thousandwonders
It is the instrument she would have played in memory of her man. However, things did not go as planned for poor Poliksena. The boat carrying the precious bell sank and the object ended up at the bottom of the Slovenian lake. The woman then retired to a convent in Rome for the rest of her life, and in remembrance of her vows, another bell consecrated by the Pope was placed in the Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption. Today, according to local tradition, it is the bell that brings good luck and whose wishes are granted if the person who formulates them manages to ring it three times.
image credit: thousandwonders
Poliksena would be the one who “watches” over what visitors want. And there are those who swear to have heard the bell ring every now and then at night from the depths of the calm lake, where it would be submerged. A number of other legends are still part of local folklore today, both about the bell and the formation of the lake itself. Do you know the history of this place? Would you board a pletna to make a wish?