Perched on top of a hill, gazing all over Bled and the Julian Alps afar, is Slovenia's oldest castle. This has been the seat of the Austrian Bishops of Brixen, after it was turned over to them by the German Emperor Henry II.
The castle features:
a. A museum whose exhibits shows the historical development of the area around Lake Bled from the Bronze age to the present.
b. A tiny frescoed chapel
c. A wine cellar
d. A herbal gallery
e. A 16th century, working printing press
f. A restaurant
During summer months, the castle atmosphere is enlivened by the visit of a count and archery tournaments, and on warm summer evenings, concerts of classical music are held under the starry skies.
Bled castle is situated on the rock, 139 m above the lake. There are many different well marked ways to the castle but not even one take you more than 30 minutes.
Only a Romanesque tower stood in the place of the present day castle in year 1004, protected by walls facing the gentle slope of the castle hill. In the late Middle Ages more towers were built and the fortifications were improved.
Bled Castle is more a residence than a fortress, but what a location! Little seems to be known about its origins, but it seems to have been based on a Romanesque tower that existed at the time when Bled was first mentioned in records 1000 years ago.
Since then, its development echoes the phases experienced by the Church of the Assumption: a bit of gothic here; a bit of Baroque there. In layout there are two courtyards. The higher of these offers the visitor a delightful panoramic view over the lake to the mountains beyond. There is a cafe and terrace there allowing you to relax and soak it all up.
What I liked were the visitor attractions. The castle houses an eclectic choice of things to visit and to see, among them a little museum, an old print room and a little chapel dating from 1465 (with later embellishments and post-earthquake repairs).
BLED CASTLE is open daily from 8.00 to 17.00. Entrance fee: adults SIT 800, students SIT 700, children up to 14 years of age SIT 500
At Bled Castle, you can visit the tiny chapel that dates from the 16th century. It was renovated some hundred year later in a late Baroque style and today stands as a fine testiment to over-the-top illusionist art.
The ceiling is a wonder to behold. It depicts the martyrdom of someone (I couldn't find any details at all about whom) I think.. but have a good look at it. It's really quite charming. The huge main figure, tied to a post is being tortured or possibly soothed by a host of little people, dressed in 17th century city-wear, like some sort of saintly Gulliver.
Perched on a cliff on the north end of Lake Bled is Bled Castle, you can see it from most vantage points as you walk around the lake. We opted not to visit the castle because of limited time but you can, admission is 5E for entrance and the museum.
To get up to the castle, look for the signs that say Grad from the path around the lake on the north side, the guidebook says that it takes about 15 minutes to climb up there.
The original fortification was built in the 11th century but remodeled in the 17th century and further in the 1950s.
In the castle there is a small and very charming museum that displays objects found during excavations in the area, alongside a range of objects typical of the life in Bled through the ages. Here you will find a fine collection of bronze jewellery, household objects, artwork etc. Small but perfectly formed.
In one room you’ll find a Perspex cabinet containing a full skeleton of a lady. Having read with great interest many books on forensic science I’d been anticipating a great explanation of the studies that had drawn scientists to the conclusion that they had found the remains of a woman. The explanation was disappointingly short and in brief it said that it was clearly a woman because of the earrings found in the tomb. According to specialists the dead were often buried with riches…
A little history of the castle:
In 1004, the German Emperor Henrik II gave the Bled estate to Bishop Albium of Brinex as a gift. It's probable that only a Romanesque tower stood in the place of the present day castle. In the Middle Ages more towers were built and the fortifications were improved.
The castle is now arranged as an exibition area.
The walk up to the castle is hard on the calf muscles, but worth it. The castle itself isn't all that much to look at, and can be walked around in only a few minutes. This can make the 1000 SIT entrance charge seem somewhat steep, especially when you have to pay an extra 200 SIT for the unimpressive little museum, but the views are worth the admission price alone. I sat there and soaked it up for a long time, staring out over the parapets for some time, especially at island lake and the unfettered views of the Julian Alps. There is also a restaurant at the castle where you can enjoy these views while you eat, but it was very expensive. Better to take some sandwiches!
This has to go down as a must see activity! Bled castle is Slovenia's oldest castle & offers some lovely views across the town & lake. It has been renovated extensively and you wouldn't know that the first castle was built on the site in 1011. There are 2 areas to explore - the upper courtyard (where the museum is) and the lower courtyard, where you can go up onthe old battlements.
Ways to get to the castle:
Take the free tourist train
Walk up from one of the many routes by the Lakeside lido
Faciities in the castle include:
Museum (Slovenian history & Bled history) & small souvenir shop
Gothic castle chapel
Restaurant (open 10am - 10pm)
Printing works (pay to have your name on a certificate about your visit)
Wine cellar (Choose from pre-bottled or choose your wine & bottle & have one made up to your order)
Art gallery/shop (very small!)
2 sets of public toilets
Opening hours: 8am-8pm (May - September), 9am - 5pm (October - April)
Cost: 1000 SIT per adult
Parts of Bled Grad ( castle ) are more than 800 years old while other parts are strictly late 20th. century. Although impressive, the facelifting efforts were much too extensive to suit my taste. I prefer the medieval castles having a more original look, such as Spissky Hrad in eastern Slovakia. I did not buy a ticket for entering the castle and inner court. I believe that the best views are from outside of the castle complex anyway. The nearly verical cliff that the castle sits atop rises almost directly from the lake. It definately looks like the protector of the lake and of all the region.
The castle has a most fascinating history. Click on the link below for details. Bled is an excellent daytrip from Triglav National Park. Accomodation options are much better at Bohinjsko jazero ( Bohinj lake ).
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