A Cultural Image of Paradise

Even before the arrival of Christianity, Bled was a must-see destination for every foreign traveller visiting the territory of present-day Slovenia. It was an important centre because Bled Island was home to the temple of Živa, the Slavic goddess of love. Bled boasts a fairy-tale image with its lake, island and magnificent mountains that surround it, which undoubtedly contributed to its importance throughout history – as a religious, cultural and tourist centre.

Tourism development in Bled began with the arrival of the Swiss doctor Arnold Rikli. He was a natural healer whose motto was “sun, water, air, freedom”.  He was looking for the perfect place to put his motto into practice, and found it in Bled. After his first visit in 1852, he developed a type of healing we now know as wellness. At that time Bled was still a part of the Austrian Empire, and news of this development travelled fast across these lands, attracting guests from near and far. Ever since then, Bled has been a tourism and sports centre that has also developed into a renowned destination with a number of international cultural events, and below we present four of the more prominent ones.

Okarina Festival Photo: Joc Razinger

International Writers’ Meeting – Slovenian PEN

This April, Bled hosted the special 50th International Writers’ Meeting PEN, which was attended by a record 90 guests and representatives of 35 PEN centres. Bled meetings have always served as an intermediary between the East and West. In addition to their cultural function, they have a strong diplomatic role owing to the various social and political issues that are discussed. This year’s event centred around the slogan “Wall, Fence, Border”. PEN meetings are open to the public in order to bring literature to the wider community. The programme of this year’s PEN meeting was held in eight additional locations across Slovenia.

International Writter's Meeting - Slovenian PEN. Photo: Tinkara Zupan

Text by Tjaša Gerdej