An amazing one day trip in Slovenia.
A true adventure in the oldest European (Triglav) national park.
We start in Ljubljana and travel into the heart of the Julian Alps. At the end of this great trip you still have the time to enjoy the evening in Ljubljana.
Formation of the lake – The 2.12 km long, 1.30 km wide and 30.6 m deep Slovenian pearl, gained its form as a tectonic basin, carved and chafed by the Bohinj glacier. The basin slowly became filled by melting ice of the area.
The lakes shape, length and depth, opens opportunities for many activities throughout the entire year. Diving and exploring the grounds of lake in summer, swimming in the sufficiently high temperatures and when degrees fall strongly below zero, the thick crust of the frozen lake is a perfect stage for winter sports such as ice hockey and ice skating. Another popular activity in summer is rowing. This is a long tradition for the locals, who also annually host international rowing competitions.
In all seasons walking and biking are the locals favourite recreation around the 6 km long trail, which by each step, reveals new splendid views of the opposite shore, hills, trees, Bled Castle and the island casting their reflection into water. The water has not been robbed of variety either, as you can notice many ducks and swans calmly swimming above the many fish inside the lake. For those willing to experience closeness of the water for an inch further, the traditional Pletna boats are the perfect match.
The Bled Castle
The history of the castle reaches back to 1004, when on those grounds stood a Romanesque tower protected by walls. The property was owned by a German Emperor Henry II who gave his estate at Bled to Bishop Albuin of Brixen. The castle started gaining its shape when it was first built in 1011, but has been kept empty of any residents, which shows even today in the solid, but not too gracefully decorated halls. The final structure and appearance of the uniquely double structured castle, which we see today, was determined in restoration after a strong earthquake damaged many parts of building in 1511.
The castle buildings are decorated with coats-of-arms painted in the fresco technique or carved in stone, but the most fascinating of them is certainly the 16th century’s Gothic chapel on the upper courtyard. Due to its renovation in 1700, today the Chapels walls are graced with Baroque art and painted with illusionist frescoes. Next to the altar there are paintings of the donors of the Bled estate, the German Emperor Henry II and his wife Kunigunda. Their portraits can also be seen in the Church of the Assumption on the Bled Island.
One of the famous Slovenian architects Tone Bitenc, left his ‘footprint’ in the 1951 to 1961 restoration of the castle and contributed to many details we can see today and experience the picturesque architecture of the castle and the museum that stands on the upper courtyard, representing the historical development of town, its culture and its population history.
The Bled Castle is now arranged as an exhibition area and from spring to autumn it is the perfect location to host numerous cultural events, such as the Medieval Days, when brave knights and beautiful damsels, merchants, archers and dancers present their medieval life to visitors. Also in summer months, the castle atmosphere is enlivened by the visit of a count and an archery tournament.
In addition a castle printing shop was made on the lower courtyard and beneath it stands probably the castles sweetest secret, until this very day – the castle wine cellar. The secret has not been kept well thus far, so visitors are gladly invited to have a drink of wine, or even enjoy a meal at the high quality castle restaurant, offering the very best of Slovenian cuisine.
As the subject is on secrets and sweetness, probably the most famous of the area is the Bled Crème cake (Slovene; kremšnita, kremna rezina). Through decades of testing recipes and perfecting the light, refreshing vanilla dessert, topped with whipped cream and a crispy layer of butter dough, this has become one of the essential town symbols. Ištvan Lukačevič, the former manager of the Hotel Park patisserie, tested recipes for many years before he finally succeeded through experience. If we cannot impress you with taste, until you try it, the numbers can speak alone – as the hotel can boast of selling as many as 12 million cream cakes over the last 60 years.
The Vintgar Gorge
As if Bled Lake and its surroundings were not captivating enough, 4 km north-west of the town, a 1.6 km long Vintgar gorge welcomes near-by travellers with the most fascinating structures of water and concrete, reachable to sight.
The gorge is today recognized as one of the main tourist attractions in Slovenia and leaves an impression on every visitor, but was discovered by Jakob Žumer, the Major of Gorje, and the cartographer and photographer Benedikt Lergetporer only in 1891. The gorge is surrounded by rocks of the Hom and Burt hills, not far situated from another Slovenian beauty – the Radovna waterfalls, pools and rapids. The path of leads you exploring over the wooden bridges and Žumr’s galleries and the single-arch stone bridge of the Bohinj railway constructed in 1906. Also built by man, stands a dam from which the water is rounted to the Vintgar hydroelectric power plant under the mighty 13 m high Šum waterfall at the end of trail.
The story of how the name Vintgar came about, has more the one version. Out of the two most probable, one originates from German Weingarten (the vineyards in the nearby Podhom), whilst the other says that the gorge section reminds on the wine glass. In this similar pattern many other gorges in Slovenia received their names (Iški vintgar, Ribnica vintgar above Srednja vas in Bohinj, Bistrica vintgar).
There are many traces of life in Vintgar, especially a strong variety of plant species. Many botanists have shown interest in the influence of vegetation on the green fortune of the area. One of the most famous is a Slovenian botanist and priest Janez Šafer, who made a list of plants of the Vintgar gorge, which was later published by Ivan Godec in his article of the ‘’Dom in Svet’’ magazine and later in the booklet ""Vintgar, Slika iz gorenjske Švice"".