Church of the Assumption

Bled, Slovenia

According to a legend, the temple of the ancient Slavic goddess Živa, once stood in the place of the present Baroque church on the island of Lake Bled. The temple disappeared during battles between the followers of the pagan religion and Christians, who destroyed the altar and built a church.

On the Bled island, archaeologists have discovered traces of prehistoric (11th to 8th centuries B.C.) and Slavic (9th to 10th century) settlements. In the early Middle Ages a pre-Christian, probably Old Slavic cult area stood at the location of the present day church. 124 graves with skeletons from the 9th to the 11th century were found. The foundations of a pre-Romanesque chapel which was built during the process of Christianisation, also date from approximately the same period - this is probably the only discovered example of a cult building from those times on Slovenian territory. According to written sources, the first masonry church on the island, a three-nave 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 renovated single-nave church was consecrated in 1465 by the first bishop of Ljubljana, count Žiga Lamberg.

In 1509 it was damaged by an earthquake to such an extent that it required thorough renovation, and this was carried out in the Baroque style. Only the frescoes in the presbytery and a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, which probably adorned the main altar, were preserved from the previous Gothic church.

The church today

The present form of the church dates from the 17th century when it was renovated after another earthquake. The main altar with its rich gold-plated carving, dates from 1747. On the central altarpiece the Virgin Mary is shown seated, with the donor of the Bled estate, Henry II, and his wife Kunigunda at her side. The side altars, consecrated to St. Sebastian, St. Magdalena and St. Anna, were made at the end of the 17th century.

The bell tower, which was built in the 15th century, has been renovated several times due to damage by two earthquakes, and in 1688 it was struck by lightning. The present tower is 54 m high and has three bells, which were made by Samassa and Franchi, bell makers from Ljubljana. Like the church, the other buildings, the walls and the monumental staircase (99 stairs) preserved their image from the 17th century.

The wishing bell

Of special interest is the 'wishing bell' from 1534 in the upper roof beam above the church nave, by F. Patavina from Padova. According to the legend, a young widow Poliksena once lived at the Bled Castle, who had a bell casted for the chapel on the island in memory of her husband. During the transport of the bell, a terrible storm struck the boat and sank it together with the crew and the bell, which to this day is said to ring from the depths of the lake. After the widow died, the Pope consecrated a new bell and sent it to the Bled Island. It is said that whoever rings this bell and thereby gives honour to Virgin Mary gets his wish come true.

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Address

Otok 3, Bled, Slovenia
See all sites in Bled

Details

Founded: 17th century
Category: Religious sites in Slovenia

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

simon el sebai (13 months ago)
Beautiful church and surroundings, worth a visit! I do agree that it is a bit expensive, but for the money payed you can see inside of the church (ring the bell 3 times to make a wish;), clocktower and museum
Mira M. Youssef (16 months ago)
Nothing much to see inside yet a ticket is required and it was pricy. Yet the view from up there is amazing. Long stairs so if you are not fit you will get tired easily. A nice place to chill for a while and have a nice cup of coffee or ice cream from the Poticnica coffeeshop up there.
Ahmet Gül (2 years ago)
One can reach the church by using the boats on the shore. The scenery is fantastic as well as the peace of the Lake Bled. The Bled Castle salutes the people on the boat. The church stands on the island and shows itself with the proud of the years that has passed away. ( After this poetic definition, I regret to inform you that the high price of the church, which is 12 Euro pro person, makes it impossible to proceed my poetic definition about the church and the island. The romantic atmosphere was ruined by the high price policy, which I found unacceptable. I have visited many churches and chapels dedicate their life to serve people and they were even free of charge)
Arthit Yodyunyong (5 years ago)
Beautiful altar and fresco but 6 € entrance fee plus 12 € boat ticket? Is it not a little too much?
Sarah Grabham (5 years ago)
The best views!
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