Church of the Mother of God on the Lake
Learn about the church with an interesting history and make a wish by ringing the wishing bell.
The traces of history of Bled Island go back to the prehistoric period (from the 11th to the 8th century B.C.) and Slavic settlement (from the 9th to the 10th century). The ancient Slavic cult area was probably located here in the early Middle Ages, i.e. at the site of the present church. In the period from the 9th to the 11th century, there were 124 graves with skeletons found and can be viewed through a glass window in the church. The foundations of the pre-Romanesque chapel, built during the spreading of Christianity, also date to that period. This is the only discovered example of a cult object from those times on our territory.
The first brick built church on the island was consecrated in 1142 by the Aquileia patriarch Pellegrino. The church was rebuilt in Gothic style in the 15th century; the renovated church was consecrated in 1465 by the first Ljubljana bishop, Count Žiga Lamberg. It was damaged in 1509 by an earthquake; therefore it was thoroughly renovated in early Baroque style. From former Gothic church are preserved only frescoes in the presbytery and wooden statue of Mother Divine, which probably adorned the main altar.
The church today
The current shape of the church has been preserved since the 17th century, when it was restored after the second earthquake. The main altar with a richly-decorated golden carving that dates back to 1747 at the main altar plastic represents the sitting Mother Divine, alongside the donor of the Bled estate Henry II and his wife Cunigunde. Side altars which were made at the end of the 17th century, are dedicated to St Sebastian, St Magdalene and St Ana.
The bell tower was built in the 15th century, but because of the heavy damage in both earthquakes and a lightning strike in 1688, the tower was renovated several times. The current bell tower is 54 metres high and has three bells made by Samasso and Franchi, bell makers from Ljubljana.
The church and other buildings, such as the wall and monumental staircase with 99 steps, have preserved their image since the 17th century. A special feature is the wishing bell in the upper roof above the church nave.
Legend of the Sunken Bell
The so-called "wishing bell" was made by Franziskus Patavinus in the Italian Padova in 1534. The legend says that a young inconsolable widow lived in Bled Castle at that time. Her husband was killed by robbers and his body was dumped in the lake, so she collected all her silver and gold and paid for the bell that would be put in the chapel on the island. But the bell never arrived there, since a heavy storm sunk it with the boat and boatmen. Some say that the bell can still be heard in clear nights. After the accident, the desperate widow sold all her belongings and went to live in a monastery in Rome. After her death, the Pope dedicated a new bell and sent it to Bled Island. Whoever rings the bell and sends a wish to the merciful "lady from the lake", she fulfils their wish.
Calm down and collect your thoughts in the church. Then ring the wishing bell and make a wish.
Climb to the bell tower to enjoy in a beautiful view and see the mechanical oscillation clock in action. From there you can also see the wishing bell if you look towards the top of the church.
See other buildings on the island.
Attend a holy mass in the church.