Echo of the pilgrimages to the island
The architectural and artistic heritage is a reflection of the deep religious significance of Bled Island. The Church of the Assumption of Mary with a freestanding bell tower stands on the fenced platform at the top of the island. Provost’s House, Sexton’s House and a house called Hermitary (former residence of a hermit) are at the edge of the platform. Petschacher’s staircase from the south and the northern staircase lead to the church and bell tower.
Painting, sculpture and architectural art
A modest, probably wooden chapel is said to have stood on Bled Island as early as the time when the first archaeological remains of the settlement date from, i.e. in the 7th or 8th century AD. A small church with a rectangular flat covered nave and a semicircular apse was later built on the chapel site. The chapel was first mentioned in written sources as early as 1185. It was enlarged by Brixen bishops, who received the estate as a gift from Emperor St. Henry II in 1004.
The Church of the Assumption of Mary, which is Bled Island’s intrinsic and architectural centre, has been rebuilt several times. Romanesque design features were replaced by Gothic in the middle of the 15th century. Major renovations were needed after two earthquakes, first in 1511 and again in 1622. The church got the current Baroque form at the end of the 17th century.
The current equipment, including a quality pulpit, is baroque. The main golden altar from 1747 with wings already intrudes into the space, while the decoration comes from the tradition of 17th-century altarpieces, which represent the pinnacle of our carving art at that time. In the central niche, there is Mary’s statue, and to the left and right, an unknown carver depicted Emperor St. Henry II with his wife, St. Kunigunda.
The remaining three stone altars were created in the Ljubljana workshop of sculptor Mihael Kuš in 1699. The north side altar is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, the south one to St. Blaise, and the altar in the south side chapel to St. Michael. The altar oil paintings were also made at the end of the 17th century and have the characteristics of the Venetian school. In the north side chapel, which was built in the same way as the south chapel at the end of the 17th century, stands St. Ana’s altar, the work of the Carniolan Baroque sculptor Valentin Vrbnik, with a painting from the famous Layer’s workshop in Kranj.
The organ got its picturesque façade in 1639 in the workshop of the Klagenfurt master Paul Rottemburger. The Provost of Enzenberg’s coat of arms is painted on the cornice fence, while, to the left and right, are depicted the seven tables of the Stations of the Cross, a late Baroque work. The church also has the coat of arms of the Bishop of Brixen, John VIII, the Earl Franz von Kuenburg, who was bishop from 1680 to 1702.
Frescoes from the Gothic Period
In addition to the preserved fragment of the Gothic window on the church façade, the frescoes in the “baroquified” presbytery also remind us of Gothic. The motifs on the south wall depict scenes from Mary’s life – the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, the Nativity (Nativity scenes) and the Offerings in the Temple. On the north wall are depicted scenes of the Annunciation of Mary and the remarkable motif of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead, with the Eucharistic symbols of grain and vine growing through Jesus’ pierced hands.
Precious oil paintings
Precious altar oil paintings were created at the end of the 17th century. The masterpieces have the characteristics of the Venetian school. In the north side chapel, there is the altar of St. Anne and Joachim, with a painting from the famous Layer’s workshop in Kranj. The picture shows St. Anne teaching little Mary to read. The coat of arms of the Provost of Enzenberg is painted on the built cornice fence, while the seven Stations of the Cross, in gilded carved wooden frames, which are a late Baroque work, are on the left and right.
Altars and Statues of Patron Saints
The richly carved large Baroque gilded wooden altar dates back to 1747. At the heart of the altar there is a tabernacle and above it a magnificent gilded statue of the Mother of God with Child, surrounded by an angelic choir still Gothic in form and probably from 15th-century church furnishings. The altar glows in all its beauty as the golden morning light illuminates it through the window behind the altar, mysteriously illuminating the entire church. While contemplating Mary’s touching gaze, we can also see the shimmering reflection of the lake surface on the presbytery ceiling.
Emperor St. Henry II and his wife the Empress St. Kunigunda humbly stand on the altar left and right. Out of respect for the Queen of Heaven, they laid down their secular crowns at their feet, where they are held by angels.
At the top of the altar, God the Creator is depicted holding the world in his hands, the wonderful work of his hands.
Saint Blaise and Saint Magdalene are depicted in the left and right carved stone altars of black stone with gilded ornaments. St. Mary Magdalene is a convert and the first preacher of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and the patron saint of penitents and pilgrims. Saint Blaise, a 4th-century bishop and martyr, is an intercessor for healing throat diseases and against every other evil. According to tradition, the new pilgrimage year always began with a pilgrimage on St. Blaise’s day, February 3rd.
On the right side altar chapel, there is the altar of the Holy Archangels: St. Michael, St. Raphael and St. Gabriel.
Saint Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?”, holds a sword in his hand. He is a special intercessor for people before God, he is the angel of the Christian people. It is present by the dying, he leads souls to heaven.
St. Gabriel, whose name means “mighty God”, is depicted with a lily, a symbol of the Annunciation. He is the angel who “stands before the Lord” (Lk 1:19). It communicates God’s revelation and important messianic prophecies. Archangel Gabriel announces to Mary that she has been chosen to be the mother of the Son of God.
Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed,” is depicted with a snake. Archangel Raphael is considered to be an angel who helps a person achieve health, as well as a companion of people on journeys. He is the patron saint of healers.
The Cross of Bishop Tomaž Hren is presented in the church entrance shed as part of the lapidary.
Since 1999, Bled Island has been declared a cultural monument of national importance.
Information, wedding ceremony and announcement of organized groups:
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Island fee, info, announcement of organized groups:
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T: +386 70 865 738
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Orders online or in-person at the Parish of Bled office every Monday from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. Possible additional dates: every day at 7.30 a.m. by prior arrangement with the Parish of Bled.
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Many visitors to the shrine, who have always gone on pilgrimage to the island, love the Wishing Bell. When they ring the bell, they commend themselves to the Mother of God and hand over their wishes and requests in faith that she will fulfil them.