Predjama - The Castle in the Cave

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September 16th 2017
Published: September 16th 2017
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We enjoyed a hearty breakfast again at our guest house this morning in Grabovac, and as we were leaving, our kind hosts handed us a bag containing fresh fruit to sustain us on our drive to Grobisce in Slovenia. The early part of our drive today was on narrow country roads through farming communities. One of the houses we drove past in a small village had been damaged significantly by bullets and mortar fire, most likely during the Balkans conflict in the early 1990’s.

The remainder of the drive was uneventful, apart from the border crossing from Croatia into Slovenia, where we were forced to wait in a queue of cars for around an hour, so that the border guards could check and stamp our passports.

We headed straight for Predjama Castle, which lies just outside of the town of Postojna. Predjama Castle is a Renaissance Castle built into the mouth of a large cave high up a mountain in South Central Slovenia. It is an amazing sight to see the castle for the first time with my own eyes, rather than through Google Images.

The castle was first mentioned in the year 1274, with the German name Luegg, when the Patriarch of Aquileia built the castle in Gothic style. The castle was built under a natural rocky arch high in the stone wall to make access to it difficult. It was later acquired and expanded by the Luegg noble family, also known as the Knights of Adelsberg.

The castle became known as the seat of the knight Erazem Lueger , lord of the castle in the 15th century and a renowned Robber Baron. He was the son of the Imperial Governor of Trieste, Nikolaj Lueger.

According to legend, Erazem came into conflict with the Habsburgs of Austria when he killed the commander of the Imperial army, Marshall Pappenheim, who had offended the honour of Erazem's deceased friend, Andrej Baumkircher of Vipava. Fleeing the vengeance of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III, Erazem based himself in the family fortress of Predjama. From there, he began to attack Habsburg estates and towns in Carniola. The Emperor commissioned the governor of Trieste, Andrej Ravbar, with the capture or killing of Erazem. Erazem was killed after a long siege. Erazem was betrayed by one of his men and was killed by a shot from a cannon.

In 1570, the current castle was built in the Renaissance style, pressed next to a vertical cliff under the original Medieval fortification. The castle has remained in this form, virtually unchanged, to the present day.

A vertical natural shaft leads out of the original castle, which Erazem ordered to be enlarged, and leads to the exit located at the top of the cliff, 25 metres away from the cliff's edge. This shaft allowed Erazem to secretly supply the castle with food in the time of the siege. He also used the secret escape route to continue with his robberies.

During our tour of the castle, we were provided with audio guides, which gave us interesting information about each room that we visited. After we had completed our tour of the castle, we walked down to a vantage point to take some more photos of the castle, only to look up and see two people madly waving to someone below. On looking closer, I said to Kim that I think that is our friends from Australia, Liz and Darrol Lwin, who we had tried to organise to meet at the gates of the castle. We were travelling from Croatia, and they were travelling from Hungary, and our travelling times didn’t quite match up. We caught up over dinner, and shared our favourite photos and stories of the places we have each visited. We are all going to visit Postojna Caves tomorrow, and then Liz and Darrol are driving on to stay in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, whilst we are staying on for a further night in Grobisce.

The visit to Predjama Castle has definitely been one of the highlights of our Eastern European holiday thus far. The upper walls had shutes through which large boulders or boiling oil was poured on unsuspecting visitors or attackers of the castle. The medieval torture room, a feature of every good castle, was brutal in it’s punishment of those who displeased the owner of the castle. Climbing up the steep (and very wet) stairs within this cave castle, and exploring the history of each area of Predjama Castle has been an unforgettable experience.

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