If you decide to take a walk around Lake Bled, you will pass by a church of Saint Martin, the patron saint of beggars, geese, and vintners.
St. Martin’s Parish Church with a beautiful parish courtyard lies just below the cliff with Bled Castle atop of it.
Church with decorative roof tiles below Bled Castle
According to Catholic belief, Saint Martin was a former Roman soldier who cut his cloak to cover a beggar.
This merciful saint is among Slovenians associated with the Feast Day of Saint Martin that is being observed on the 11th of November. On that day it is common to eat roasted goose and taste the first wine of the season.
The church dedicated to Saint Martin is one of the two churches at Lake Bled.
The church is located at Slovenian Square (‘Slovenski trg’) where you will also find a charming Old Parish House with a café, as well as a new parish house that is home to the current priest.
In case you are looking for a decent accommodation in Bled that is close to the lake and to the castle – you can rent a room in Old Parish House. Renting rooms in parish houses is not common in Slovenia, so you might take a chance while in Bled.
View from Slovenian Square
While waking towards the church I would suggest you to make a stop at Slovenian Square and enjoy the view of Lake Bled from there.
In front of you, you will see Straža, a green hill that you can climb easily as there are well-maintained paths leading to the top of it. From Straža you will see St. Martin’s Church and Bled Castle from afar.
Visiting the church
St. Martin’s Church is open to visitors during the day, so you can go inside and have a look around. Just keep in mind that religious ceremonies (masses) are held at specific hours (mainly mornings and evenings) each day and at that time you will not be able to walk inside the church.
St. Martin’s Parish Church was built between 1903 and 1905 in Neo-Gothic style according to the plans of Friedrich von Schmidt, a famous architect who lived and worked in Vienna. Von Schmidt also designed a town hall in Austria’s capital, among others.
If you step inside, you will see graceful frescoes that were made by Slovenian painter Slavko Pengov who was one of the most prominent artists doing figure painting in the middle of the 20th century.
There are also marble altars, different sculptures, huge pipe organs looking down from the back of the church and a majestic chandelier that seems to be the central part of this religious building.
At the site of St. Martin`s Church, there used to be a much smaller (wooden) church that probably dated back to the 11th century. Over the years the church was rebuilt until it was completely demolished in 1903, and a new church that you can visit today was built.
In front of today`s church that is the main church of Bled you will see an elegant statue – Pillar of Virgin Mary. It was designed by Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik who is said to be ‘architectural father’ of Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana.
After visiting the church and the old parish house, you can continue your way up to Bled Castle.
There are some steps to climb, however, amazing view from the castle’s terraces over Lake Bled and its surroundings will make you forget about the slightly tiring walk upstairs!
- PRACTICAL INFORMATION -
LOCATION: St. Martin`s Parish Church and Old Parish House are located below Bled Castle that sits above Lake Bled.
St. Martin`s Parish Church and Old Parish House
GET THERE: There are several paths going up to Slovenian Square with the church, starting by the lake.
LITURGICAL SERVICE: The church holds religious ceremonies (masses) on a daily basis. The masses are being held in Slovenian.
BLED CASTLE: From Slovenian Square (where St. Martin`s church is located) you can continue walking up to Bled Castle. You will be walking on the oldest path that runs towards the castle.