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In a wooded area not far from the famed Lake Bohinj, on the edge of the Triglav National Park, visitors may stumble on a small stone bridge with a surprisingly interesting history. Over the years, it inspired a local legend that has been passed on from generation to generation. Foto: MMC RTV SLO/Ana Svenšek

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A Deal with the Devil

Slovenia Revealed
20. April 2017 ob 06:34
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

In a wooded area not far from the famed Lake Bohinj, on the edge of the Triglav National Park, visitors may stumble on a small stone bridge with a surprisingly interesting history. Over the years, it inspired a local legend that has been passed on from generation to generation.

According to the story, which was first recorded by a local woman named Marija Cvetek, the devil himself spoke to the local residents and promised to help them build a bridge over a narrow gorge in the woods. But there was one caveat: The first local to cross the bridge would have to give his soul to the devil for eternity.

The locals agreed to the deal but couldn’t agree on who would make the sacrifice. In the end, they decided to trick the devil: They would get a dog to cross the bridge first. They threw a bone to the other side of the gorge, and the unsuspecting dog ran across the bridge. The devil ended up with the dog’s soul, but he was so upset by the trickery that he destroyed the original bridge with his tail.

Remarkably similar legends exist elsewhere in Slovenia and across Europe, but the Devil’s Bridge in Bohinj is especially well-known. Its real history is in many ways just as interesting: The construction of the bridge was ordered by the 18th century baron Sigmund Zois, a leading figure of the Slovenian enlightenment. He had it built to enable the transportation of iron ore and coal from the nearby mountains to the numerous ironworks of the area.

Despite its colorful history, the bridge now attracts visitors primarily because of the beautiful nature that surrounds it, including the gorges of the Mostnica River below, which are emerging as a popular destination in the Triglav National Park.

Jaka Bartolj