The village is due to the susceptibility of the population to the cultural heritage, preserved many elements from the past.
Bohinjska Bela lies in the southwest of the Bled corner, in a small valley that was slowly carved by the river Sava Bohinjka. In the south, it is surrounded by the rocky part of the Jelovica plateau with an impressive rock called Babji Zob ("Hag's Tooth"). This cliff was named after the isolated rock that protrudes high above the rapids of the river Sava Bohinjka. In the north, the valley is surrounded by the steep cliffs of southern edges of the Pokljuka plateau. On both banks of the river there are terraces suitable for cultivation and settlements.
The village itself lies on the left bank of the river Sava Bohinjka. Its oldest part (dated before the year 1000) is "Spodnja vas" with the church of St. Marjeta, cultural centre, post office, shop, bus station, branch school, kindergarten, fire station and an inn. "Zgornja vas" is a bit younger and is located under the overhanging rock of Iglica, where the largest group of houses and also a boarding house are situated. The newest part of the village is Podklanec which was formed in the vicinity of the train station in the last hundred years. There is also a bus station and an inn with tourist rooms. About one kilometre in the direction towards Bohinj, where the Soteska gorge begins, between the Babji Zob rock and mount Galetovec, there is a hamlet called Obrne. Above the village there is another hamlet called Slamniki, which is divided into the easily accessible part, called Brezje with a few houses, located above the Iglica cliff, and the part with a few scattered mountain farms with a beautiful view of the Bled corner. On the other bank of the river Sava Bohinjka, high on the plateau under Babji Zob, there is the village of Kupljenik with its old pilgrimage church of St. Stephen.
GEOGRAPHICAL UN HISTORICAL PLACEMENT
Bohinjska Bela is basically entirely a rural village composed of many groups of houses: from Spodnja or Dolenja vas (Lower village) at the beginning of the village, to Zgornja or Gorenja vas (Upper village) in the middle and Podklanec at the end. Originally the village was situated on the left bank of the river Sava Bohinjka, formerly Savica, between the Belca creek in the north and the Črni Studenec creek in the south.
The road through Bohinjska Bela led to Bohinj already in the times of the Roman Empire. Later on, two roads led to Bohinj; the one on the left bank of Sava Bohinjka was used by the noble lords of Bled, while the noble lords of Radovljica used the one on the right bank of the river. These cargo paths were replaced by a public road only in the second half of the 18th century, mostly thanks to baron Zois.
Dolenja vas (Lower village) is historically the oldest part. The first inhabitants have most likely been here even before the Roman occupation. Surely, though, there was a Burgenland soon after that somewhere, from which five farms originate. The beginners of the original village in the 10th century (or even sooner) are most possibly of Lipnica-Burgeau descent, later called the Lipnica-Radovljica Ortenburgeaus, who owned the village until the discharge of land in the 19th century.
Until the last quarter of the 18th century, Spodnja vas had 19 houses. Only after 1780 did the number slowly start to increase. Gorenja vas probably arose in the 12th century, after the Bishopric of Brixen had gained the noble lords of Bled to their side. They probably enabled the cultivation and settlement of the land under the rock of Iglica and south towards Podklanec. In 1250, Zgornja vas had 9 farms and one mayoralty. The farms were retained right until the discharge of land. From the 16th century onwards, Zgornja vas started to develop the cottager class. With this class, charcoal-burning started to intensify (ironworks), along with other professions, such as: tanner, leather dresser, carpenter, blacksmith, mason, and miller.
In 1770, Zgornja vas had 26 houses. Bohinjska Bela also included the hamlet of Slamniki with six houses (two of which were farms), situated above the village at the slope of the Pokljuka plateau, which continued back into the valley and to the hamlet of Obrne, where the last farm, called Obrnikar, was situated alongside the road in the direction of Štenge and Bohinj. History places Obrne among the newer settlements, although there are righteous doubts regarding this historical placement: the remainders of a Roman path, fallow names, shape of alpine residences,... Strmine, a newer labour settlement, is nowadays also considered to be part of Obrne.
The newest part of Bohinjska Bela is called Podklanec. It dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, forming simultaneously with the construction of the railroad and the railway station at the south side of the Bela field. A sawmill was also present here once, and the barracks were constructed in the 1930s. Like the railway, the sawmill and the barracks also gave employment, which is why Podklanec expanded after the second World War and is now a distinctive settlement of workers and officials, employed in larger towns with industry (Jesenice) and bureaus.
The local community of Bohinjska Bela also comprises Kupljenik, which is situated on the right side of the river Sava Bohinjka on the slopes of Jelovica over Baba. The village has 16 house numbers, but not all houses have inhabitants. The population has dropped from around one hundred in the 1950s to about thirty nowadays. The village is also home to the succursal church of St. Stephen, which is probably much older than thought until now (16th century). The village used to have four farms, 11 cottagers, 9 of which were subject to the Castle of Bled, one to the provost's house on the island of Lake Bled and one to St. Stephen). The farms must have existed at least in 1380 (if not earlier) when the Ortenburgeau (Lipnica castle) tithe "Kaplenigo" is mentioned.
GENERAL HISTORICAL DATA
The Bled succursal church of St. Marjeta in Bohinjska Bela had had a permanent priest since 1788 and has been an independent parish since 1876, covering Slamniki, Obrne and Kupljenik as well. When a fire destroyed Spodnja vas together with the presbytery in 1818, a new one was built, which was later home to the primary school, established in 1852, but only until 1903, when a new school was built and still stands there today. As of 1870, Bohinjska Bela also has a post office. In 1904, telegraph communications were established, followed by telephone communications in 1936. The railroad construction began in 1904. The first train arrived on 19 July 1906, with regular traffic commencing four days later, on 23 July. The fire in Zgornja vas in 1896 encouraged the establishment of a volunteer fire department in 1898 and the construction of a fire station in 1899. Before and after the First World War, the association also had its own tambours choir. The fire department of Bohinjska Bela also consisted of members from Kupljenik, which later became independent. At the beginning of the 20th century, the villagers of Bohinjska Bela also began their organised cultural activity with a drama section and a choral society (besides the tambours choir), but it took as much as two decades before the cultural association obtained its own site in the barn of Rot, where drama plays were staged. In 1948, a newly-built cultural centre (at that time called the Youth centre) was opened and it still performs its task today. In 1780, Bohinjska Bela had a population of around 330. In 1822, Bohinjska Bela consisted of 52 houses, Slamniki and Obrne of 8 houses and Kupljenik of 14 houses. In 1910, these numbers rose to 110, 12 and 20 houses respectively. Today there are 171 houses in Bohinjska Bela, 18 in Obrne, 7 in Slamniki and 18 in Kupljenik. While the number of houses increases, the same cannot be said for the population (particularly autochthon, whose ancestors are already noted in the first registers). The population growth has been negative for quite a while now. Data from the Kingdom of Yugoslavia shows a population of 756 for the parish of Bohinjska Bela (today the local community of Bohinjska Bela), while today the population counts 667.