Two Lakes, Two Boats, Two Love Stories

About the vanishing lake and the island from the postcard

By Slovenian Tourist Board

Bled island and Bled castle by Iztok MedjaSlovenian Tourist Board

Lake Bled

Lake Bled and its island is probably the most well-known image of Slovenia for tourists. But the lake and the town of Bled are much more than a postcard image.

Pletna boat and Bled Lake by Vid Rotar, MediaspeedSlovenian Tourist Board

Pletna boats

The image of Lake Bled is inseparably connected with pletnas, wooden boats that transport passengers from the shore to the island in the middle of the lake. A pletna is a flat-bottomed wooden boat, around seven metres long and two metres wide. They are propelled using long oars by rowers known as pletnars, who pilot the boats while standing upright.

Pletna Bled by Mediaspeed, foto: Vid RotarSlovenian Tourist Board

The history of pletnas dates back to the 12th century, when the church and other buildings on the island were under construction. At the time, these were more roughly chiselled boats intended for transporting building material and tools. When the church was built and pilgrims started visiting it, benches and a table were added to these simple boats.

Today, there are 24 pletnas on Lake Bled, and in the last 20 years, their rowers have operated within an association which follows special rules.  Have you taken a ride to Bled Island in one?

Bled by Jacob Riglin, Beautiful DestinationsSlovenian Tourist Board

𝔅𝔩𝔢𝔡 𝔩𝔬𝔳𝔢 𝔰𝔱𝔬𝔯𝔶 ❤️

Bled Bell by Meta Wraber

𝔏𝔢𝔤𝔢𝔫𝔡 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔰𝔲𝔫𝔨𝔢𝔫 𝔟𝔢𝔩𝔩 𝔬𝔣 𝔅𝔩𝔢𝔡

Once upon a time, a young widow lived in Bled Castle. Her husband was killed by bandits. In his honour, she gave all her gold and silver away so that a bell for the chapel on the island could be cast from it. 

When the bell was made, it was to be taken to the island by boat, but just then a storm started raging over the lake. The boat sank, taking the precious bell with it to the bottom of the lake. It is said that on clear and calm nights, you can still hear the bell tolling down in the depths. 

Lake Bled by Franci FerjanSlovenian Tourist Board

What about the bell that today tolls on Bled Island? The young widow went into a convent after the unfortunate events.  When she died, the pope sent another bell as a tribute to the woman, which still hangs in the church bell tower today. At least this is what the legend says. It is also said that anyone who rings it will have their wish come true. 

Cerknica Lake by Jošt GantarSlovenian Tourist Board

Lake Cerknica

This mysterious lake changes its appearance almost every day – or as the locals say: "Now you see it, now you don't." For this is one of the largest intermittent lakes in Europe, showing a different face in each season of the year. In the dry season, see sinkholes through which the water drains underground.

Cerknica Lake by Jošt GantarSlovenian Tourist Board

Drevak boats

Pletna boats on Lake Bled, and drevak boats on Lake Cerknica. 

Padding on drevak on lake Cerknica by Jošt GantarSlovenian Tourist Board

Locals have been closely connected with the lake since long ago. They have lived by it and with it, and they are well aware of its unusual and sometimes moody character. In order to tame it, if only a little, centuries ago they started making simple boats comprised of two firs connected by nails.

Cerknica Lake by Jošt GantarSlovenian Tourist Board

When the water level was high or during floods, locals used drevak boats to transport people and cattle, access pastures and forests, or for hunting and fishing ... While drevak boats are only rarely seen on the lake nowadays, the art of making and using  drevak boats is preserved and studied by the Heritage House and the Jezerski Hram museum of Lake Cerknica.

Cerknica Lake by Jošt GantarSlovenian Tourist Board

𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔩𝔢𝔤𝔢𝔫𝔡 𝔬𝔣 𝔏𝔞𝔨𝔢 ℭ𝔢𝔯𝔨𝔫𝔦𝔠𝔞 ❤️

A love story with an unfortunate ending

Cerknica (1679) by Johann Weikhard von ValvasorSlovenian Tourist Board

Once upon a time, two castles - Karlovec Castle and Šteberk Castle, stood on the opposite sides of the valley. The castle lords were also personally on opposite sides, and their families were feuding. 

Cerknica Lake by Matevž LenarčičSlovenian Tourist Board

Nevertheless, their children fell in love. The son from Šteberk asked the lord of Karlovec Castle for his daughter's hand, and this was promised to him if he could manage to come for her in a boat. But how could this be done when the castles were separated by a grassy plain? 

The desperate man from Šteberk was returning home, sad and lost in his thoughts, when he ran into an unusual lake man. He felt sorry for the young man, so he advised him how to close the sinkhole, so that the water could not run away. 

Cerknica lake by Matevž LenarčičSlovenian Tourist Board

He did this, and the water filled up the valley and a lake was created. The suitor used the lake to come for the girl from Karlovec in a boat, but her father did not keep his promise. 

Cerknica lake by Notranjski regijski park, arhiv RRA Zeleni kras d.o.o.Slovenian Tourist Board

Nevertheless, the young man continued to visit his darling every night, as she lit a candle in the window so he could find the way. Another suitor noticed this, and he cunningly moved the candle to a position over the sinkhole – and the young man from Šteberk rowed to his death. This broke the heart of the young girl and, in despair, she threw herself from the castle walls into the sinkhole. 

Lake Bohinj by Daniel ErnstSlovenian Tourist Board

Slovenian lakes

Slovenia is a land of water, crystal-clear rivers, astonishing waterfalls and numerous lakes – small and large. In addition to Lake Bled and Lake Cerknica, there is also Lake Bohinj (largest permanent lake), Lake Šmartno, Lake Velenje and the intermittent Pivka lakes, Lake Jasna and others ...

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