Bred Island is a small tear-shaped island floating in the middle of Lake Bled in northwestern Slovenia. Nestled in Lake Bled’s emerald waters, this idyllic isle is a living fairy tale framed by the Julian Alps.
The island is home to the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary, a 170-foot tall Baroque structure. Built in 1534, this church is a historical landmark and a favored local wedding venue. A local custom requires grooms to carry brides up 99 stone steps to the church door.
Bled Slovenia Island Church
Founded in the 9th century and rebuilt in the 17th, Slovenia’s Bled Island Church melds Gothic and Baroque styles. Its 171-foot freestanding bell tower is a Romanesque marvel.
Inside, a gilded altar showcases art from the 14th to 18th centuries, complemented by intricate frescoes. A 16th-century “wishing bell” adds folklore charm, promising to grant wishes to those who ring it.
What to do on Bled Island
Tourists enjoy hiking around the lake and rowing in its peaceful waters during the summer. One can also reach the island by Pletna boat or, dare we say, by swimming there.
During the winter, the frost over the island looks like a scene from a Disney movie. The mountains and forests surrounding the lake add to the picturesque view of the church.
Bled Island is Slovenia’s sole natural island, a top tourist attraction, and its cliffside medieval castle. In the summer of 2023, Slovenian NBA star Luka Doncic hosted a Lake Bled 3-on-3 tournament on a floating court. The competition was part of the launch of Doncic’s new Nike Jordan shoe, ‘Luka 2 Lake Bled,’ inspired by the lake.
Straight out of a fairy tale, we can see why this little island is a real treasure.
Fascinating Facts About Slovenia’s Bled Island
- Location: Situated in Lake Bled, in the Julian Alps of Slovenia.
- Church of the Assumption: The island’s iconic 17th-century church blends Gothic and Baroque architectural styles.
- Wishing Bell: The church houses a 16th-century bell said to grant wishes to those who ring it.
- Traditional Pletna Boats: The island is typically accessed by pletna boats, a Slovenian flat-bottom boat operated by oarsmen.
- 99 Stone Steps: A climb of 99 stone steps leads to the church, a favorite newlywed tradition.
- Historical Layers: The island’s first church dates to the 9th century and has seen multiple renovations.
- Pilgrimage Site: Apart from tourists, the island attracts pilgrims due to its religious significance.
- Natural Beauty: Surrounded by emerald-green waters and framed by the Julian Alps, the island offers stunning scenic views.
- Bled Castle Views: The island offers a unique vantage point to view Bled Castle, perched on a nearby cliff.
- Dragon Legend: Local myths suggest that the island was formed by fairies who vanquished a dragon (related: The Dragon Eye Stone Mine) that used to reside in the area.
- Seasonal Activities: The island offers diverse events, from summer concerts and winter ice skating to floating basketball courts.
- Wedding Venue: Popular for weddings, Bled Island features the groom carrying the bride up 99 steps to ring the wishing bell.