Slovenia: Predjama Castle

IMG_0756Of all the castles that I’ve seen in my life, Predjama Castle, a Renaissance castle built in the mouth of a cave, is one of the most amazing. As you walk up to the castle, the imposing view of a majestic castle surrounded by a huge cliffside strikes you. Imagine being a soldier trying to siege this castle. It’s practically impossible as the inhabitants of the castle only need to worry about protecting the front.

This castle was actually built over several decades and centuries. The very first castle that was built was rather primitive, smaller, and more focused on protection, rather than architectural beauty. At Predjama Castle, you do a self-tour with a handset. I really like these as I can do a tour at my own pace. Plus several different languages were available, so my parents and my aunt listened in Korean, while I listened in English. The tour was very informative and they pointed out the older parts of the castle and how the castle was built into the cave.

The back half of the castle was super cool because the rooms are literally in the cave. The castle has an amazing history centering around Erazem Lueger, known as the Slovenian Robin Hood. There are several folktales revolving around him and his exploits. The most famous story has to do with his survival and then ultimate downfall at Predjama Castle. Erazem had killed someone (who was a relative of Frederick III, the Holy Roman Emperor) in an argument. According to my guide at Ljubljana Castle, Erazem was actually in prison at the Ljubljana Castle for a short while. He bribed a servant to tell him about a secret passage from a privy in the castle out to the forest. Once he escaped, he fled to his home, Predjama Castle. Obviously Frederick III wanted him. For a year, they attacked the castle, but Erazem and his men were always able to defend themselves. Normally when soldiers are unable to take the castle, they wait out the people by starving them. Yet Erazem and his men seemed to have an unlimited supply of food. Erazem even taunted them by throwing cherry pits when it was cherry season in the summer. Unbeknownst to Frederick III’s soldiers, there was a secret cave tunnel from Predjama to a nearby forest and that’s how they were able to get supplies into the castle. The story claims that Erazem met his death because a servant was bribed into lighting a candle when Erazem was using the lavatory, which is located on the top floor of a tower. When the soldiers saw the candle, they fired a cannon straight to the tower. According to Wikipedia, the story of his death isn’t true, but it’s an urban legend still being propagated by the castle because we heard it again via the handset.

Regardless, Predjama Castle is an amazing feat of architectural prowess. The tour described aspects of royal life during different time periods, the people who would have lived there, and the history of the castle. I loved wandering through the rooms and hearing about the people who lived there and what their lives were like.

We took our time walking and doing the self-tour. The whole thing took about 2-2.5 hours to do and Predjama Castle is a definitely must visit while in Slovenia.

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