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Bled (Municipality, Slovenia)

Last modified: 2011-12-23 by ivan sache
Keywords: bled | lozenge (green) | lozenge(white) | church | island | citadel | cliff (white) |
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[Flag of Bled]         [Flag of Bled]

Municipal flag of Bled, horizontal and vertical versions - Images by Željko Heimer, 17 June 2002

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Presentation of Bled

The municipality of Bled (11,000 inhabitants) is located in the mountains of Carniola, on the eponymous lake. Bled is one of the main tourist sightings in Slovenia, renowned for its scenic landscape and thermal springs.

Lake Bled was formed after the recession of the Bohinj glacier at the end of the last Ice Age. Its dimensions are 2,120 x 1,380 m, its maximum depth being 30.6 m. The glacier deepened the natural hollow, which was filled with water when ice melted. The lake is fed only by a few springs. The thermal springs in its north-eastern part supply three swimming pools, today in Grand Hotel Toplice, Hotel Park and Hotel Golf, respectively. The lake is also a popular place for rowing; Bled houses the Zaka Rowing Centre, the only rowing center in Slovenia, founded by Boris Kojicančič.

The island of Bled is located in the western part of the lake. A legend says that a temple dedicated to the Slavic goddess Živa stood on the island, served by priest Staroslav, his daughter Bogomila, and Črtomir. The temple was destroyed during a fighting between Pagans and Christians, who built an altar and a church. Bogomila stayed with her father in the new church, whereas Črtomir was christened near the Savica waterfall. He travelled to Aquilea (Italy), where the Aquilean patriarch appointed him his missionary among the Slovenes.
There are several remains of human settlements on the island, from the Prehistoric times to pre-Romanesque areas. Written sources report that the first masoned church on the island was consecrated by Aquilean patriarch Pellegrino in 1142. In the 15th century, the church was rebuilt in the Gothic style, along with a new presbytery and a free standing bell-tower. The new church was consecrated in 1465 by the first bishop of Ljubljana, Count Žiga Lamberg. An earthquake nearly destroyed the church in 1509, which was rebuilt in the Baroque style. After another earthquake, the church was renovated in the 17th century. The present tower is 54 m high and has three bells.

Another curious sight near Bled is the Vintgar gorge, located some 4 km north-west of Bled near the village of Gorje. Jakob Žumer, Mayor of Gorje and the cartographer and photographer Benedikt Lergetporer accidentally discovered the gorge in February 1891. The gorge, watered by the river Radovana, was opened to the public in August 1893. The 1.6 km long gorge ends over the 16 m high Šum waterfall. The place is listed among the most important tourist sights in Slovenia.

The oldest traces of human settlement in Bled date back to the Age of Stone. Settlement increased in the Age of Iron, when iron mining started in the Alps mountains. Some 80 gravesites from the late Iron Age (800-600 BC) have been found at Prsitava pod Gradom. Celtic and Romans remains are more modest. More remains of two successive waves of Slavic colonization (7th and 9th centuries) have been found in the present-day town of Bled, on the island of Bled and in the villages of Prsitava pod Gradom, Žale and Želeče.
Bled was incorporated into the Frankish Empire by Charlemagne in 782, and then into the Roman Holy Empire. In 1004, Emperor Heinrich II divided the land between the two Sava rivers; the castle of Bled was awarded in 1011 to Bishop Albuin of Brixen.
In the middle of the 14th century, the Bishops of Brixen leased their properties in Bled to their chief administrators, the family von Kreigh. Brutal management caused in the 15th century the uprising of the peasants, who joined the pan-Slovene revolt for a return to the "old justice" in 1515.
In 1558, the castle of Bled was taken over by the Protestant Protector Herbert VII of Auersperg. In 1803, after 800 years of Brixen rule, Bled was placed under the State authority by a Decree of the Court Commission in Vienna. From 1809 to 1813, it was included in the Illyrian provinces set up by Napoléon. After the reincorporation to the Austrian Empire, Bled was returned to the Brixen in 1838. The feudal system was abolished 10 years later.
In 1858, the Bled estate was sold to Viktor Ruard, the owner of the Jesenice ironworks, who kept the castle, the island and the arable land near the lake and sold the rest to the Kranj Industrial Company. In 1882, Ruard sold his property to Adolf Muhr, a wholesale merchant of Vienna. In 1919, the hotelier Ivan Kenda purchased the castle and the lake and was the first Slovene owner of the place. In 1937, Bled was taken by the Associate Commercial Bank and eventually bought by the Drava province.
Bled was used during the Second World War as civil and military headquarters by the Germans. Bled was granted the status of a town in 1960.

The first "tourists" in Bled were pilgrims visiting the Church of the Assomption on the island of Bled. The beauty of the place and the tales told by pilgrims increased the number of visitors and attracted nobles in Bled. In 1689, Janez Valkard Valvasor described the thermal springs of Bled in his book The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola. The castle administrator Weidmann was upset by the increasing number of visitors in Bled and attempted to destroy and fill the springs, fortunately to no avail; one of his successors, Ignac Novak (1782-1787) proposed to dry out the lake in order to get more arable land and dig out clay for brickworks. The Carniolan Provincial Assembly rejected Novak's proposal.
The springs were revamped in 1822 and protected with a simple roof; however, most tourists came to Bled to see the landscape and not for their health. The English naturalist Sir Humphrey Davy described Bled as the most beautiful place he had seen in Europe.
During the birth of Slovene national identity in the middle of the 19th century, several Slovenes came to Bled to see the temple of the Slavic goddess Živa and claimed that the shadow of her priestess Bogomila was hidden in the contours of the Church of the Assomption.

Mass tourism started in Bled in 1855. Arnold Rikli, a Swiss hydrotherapist, was interested by the mild climate of Bled allowing a long swimming season; he founded the Institute of Natural Healing and attempted to attract customers. In 1895, he built simple, Swiss-style wooden baths and huts in a park for the accomodation of his patients. New, larger baths were constructed in 1899 due to the increasing success of Rikli's method. Rikli recommended bathing in the lake and in cold baths, supplied by two cold springs (10 and 15.6 °C), and also warm and steam baths. Sunbathing and walks were also compulsory parts of his program. Rikli selected excursions around Bled and ranked them according to their difficulty, and built courses for bowl and skittles in these locations. The rules and schedules at Rikli's institute were very strict and the nutrition was vegetarian. Rikli spent 52 years in Bled, where his treatment was proved efficient against many diseases, such as rheumatism, migraine, insomnia, hysteria, anemia, poor blood circulation, and obesity.
Beside Rikli's patients, Bled attracted many people who enjoyed the healthy and beautiful environment. In 1870, a tramway line was built between Trieste and Ljubljana, with a stop at Lesce serving Bled. In 1903, Bled was awarded a gold medal in an international spa exhibition in Vienna; in 1906, it was registered on the official list of important tourist places of the Austrian Empire.

Between the two World Wars, Bled was a very cosmopolite spa and one of the prefered summer residences of the Yugoslavian royal family. After the Second World War, Marshal Tito had a residence in Vila Bled, where he met several foreign heads of states and diplomats. Vila Bled has been renovated in 1984 and is today a top category hotel.

Bled is the birth town of the mathematician Josip Plemelj (1873-1967), who worked in the field of linear differential equations and was the first Rector of the Slovene University in Ljubljana (1919).

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 12 December 2004

Municipal flag of Bled

The flag and coat of arms of Bled are prescribed in the amended municipal statutes Spremeba in dopolnitev statuta Občine Bled, adopted on 1 March 2000 and published in the official Slovene gazette Uradni list Republike Slovenije, 19/2000, and in Decision Odlok o spremembah in doplonitvah odloka o obliki in načinu uporabe simbolov in pečata Občine Bled, also adopted on 1 March 2000 and published in the official Slovene gazette Uradni list Republike Slovenije, 24/2000.

The flag is rectangular, in proportion 1:2, vertically divided blue-white-blue with the municipal coat of arms in the middle. The width of the coat of arms is 0.55 of the hoist.

The Decision prescribes that when the flag is hoisted vertically, the coat of arms shall retain its relative (vertical) position in the flag.

The colours of the symbols are prescribed as:
- Blue: Pantone Process Blue c; CMYK 100-0-0-0
- Yellow: Pantone Yellow 108c; CMYK 0-0-100-0
- Red: Pantone Red 032c; CMYK 0-91-87-0
- Green: Pantone Green 362c; CMYK 76-0-100-11.5
- Black: Pantone Black; CMYK 0-0-0-100

Željko Heimer, 25 January 2005

Coat of arms of Bled

[Coat of arms of Bled]

Coat of arms of Bled - Image by Željko Heimer, 17 June 2002

The coat of arms of Bled is a semi-circular shield containing a typical Bled landscape: above the lake, the Bled Island with the church of Mary's Ascension with the Belfry of Wishes, on the right on a high cliff the citadel.

Željko Heimer, 17 June 2002

Former flag and arms of Bled

[Former flag of Bled]         [Former coat of arms]

Former flag and arms of Bled - Images reconstructed by Željko Heimer, 17 June 2002

The former flag and coat of arms of Bled were prescribed by Decision Odlok o obliki in načinu uporabe simbolov in pečata Občine Bled, adopted on 11 April 1996 and published in the official Slovene gazette Uradni list Republike Slovenije, 26/1996, on 17 May 1996. The municipal statutes Statut Občine Bled, adopted on 31 March 1999 and published in the official Slovene gazette Uradni list Republike Slovenije, 33/1999, confirmed these symbols.
With the adoption of these symbols, the previous Decisions on the use of the symbols of the municipality of Radovljica were abolished on the territory of the municipality of Bled.

The flag is lozengy green and white, in proportion 1:2. Lozenges are arranged in such a way that there are four green half-lozenges along the hoist and four white along the top and the bottom of the flag, and 12 full green and 12 full white lozenges. Green shade is prescribed as CMYK 100-0-70-40 and Pantone 335u.
There is no image accompanying the text, so the image of the flag shown above is a reconstruction based on the description in the Decision.

The coat of arms is a modern shield-shaped symbol, consisting of a circular design with wavy shapes in base and the silhouette of a church. The symbol represents the island in the middle of Bled lake.
As I already mentioned, there are no images in the official gazette, so I used an image from the former municipal website (no longer online), as base for my drawing. Unfortunately, the image there is black and white, and the text is not quite clear about colouring of the elements (it says approximately "in lower part of the symbol there is water coloured blue, upper part is green with roof in red".) The shield is bordered with a thin black line.

Željko Heimer, 19 September 1999