The Predjama Castle in Slovenia is one of the most famous in the country. Slowly, but very certainly is also becoming one of the most famous castles in the world. Many visitors say that it is unlike anything they have seen before. The castle is built into the Karst rock, which makes the cave and the concrete perfectly merge into one! You really shouldn’t miss this spectacular place, and a really amazing experience when in Slovenia!
Predjama Castle is also known as the largest cave castle in the world
It is hard to tell where the castle ends and the Karst cave begins. When entering the castle you are also entering the cave; In some parts of the castle the rock is also a wall. This is why the temperature inside the Predjama Castle is much cooler than in other castles. The castle is located in small Slovenian village of Predjama, only 9 km from the famous Postojna Cave.
The contrast between the blackened cliffs and the white walls of the castle offers the sensation that is almost unreal!
The notorious knight of the Predjama Castle
As its unique architecture and appearance aren’t exciting enough, there is so much mistery all over Predjama Castle’s history. Its stories will make your imagination go wild. Over the course of time, the castle had many different owners and inhabitants. It is also known that many people were locked up, trailed and tortured here.
However, there was a particular inhabitant whose life and death represent the best there is in a legend: Erazem of Predjama from the 15th century.
Documents certify that “Predjamski Grad”, which in Slovenian means “the castle in front of the cave”, was built around the 12th century.
The knight Erazem Lueger inherited the Predjama Castle in 1478. He came into conflict with the Habsburg establishment, after he killed the commander of the imperial army in Vienna, who had offended the honor of his deceased friend Andrej Baumkircher of Vipava. To escape the revenge of the Holy Roman Emperor Friderik III, he settled in the family fortress of Predjama. Furthermore, he teamed up with the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus and began to attack Habsburg estates and towns in Carniola (a historical region that comprised parts of present-day Slovenia).
Secret passages – a way to freedom
At the entrance of the Predjama Castle our guide Vlasta Černe points to a little room in the rock: »This is where they have finally got him, hitting him with a cannonball as he sat on the toilet.« Undoubtedly, a bizarre end of a brave local hero, loved by his people, with whom according to the legend, he was sharing the stolen goods from the ambushed and looted commercial caravans.
I do get some comfort in finding out, that he didn’t go without a fight. Actually, without a laugh. By the siege of the Predjama Castle on emperors command, the soldiers expected that Erazem will be starved to death by the isolation from the outside world. But the magnificent cave systems beneath and behind the castle enabled Erazem to leave the castle and bring back all the supplies he needed. He was even teasing the soldiers, by sending them fresh meat and fruits.
However, everything changed when the soldiers managed to bribe one of Erazem’s servants to betray his master. The deal was that the servant had to announce the troops with a lit candle when Erazem was in the toilet. Their plan was to throw a cannonball at him.
Predjama Castle has Game of Thrones written all over it!
It is almost impossible to get tired of the view at the Predjama Castle. It is a fantasy world like, but real. In all honesty, it looks like a perfect location for a Game of Thrones episode. A mighty medieval castle in the cave, such an amazing manifestation of how well the castle was adapted into the rock face. It really doesn’t get better than this. Furthermore, in 1991 the workers found a 16th century chest full of treasure. According to some legends, there might be more chests hidden …
In 1986, Predjama Castle was one of the filming locations of the film Armour of God with Jackie Chan in the starring role.
So, this is a call to all of the Game of Thrones fans as well – come visit the Predjama Castle, and enjoy this amazing historical experience.
Today, the castle is open to the public and serves as a museum. It has been completely restored to its original grandeur. There is an exhibition about how the every day life and the castle looked like. You can see the small chapel, a bedroom, a torture chamber, a room filled with replicas of various weapons like spears, swords, war hammers, bows and armors. In one of the top floors you can also take a closer look at stone bullets found inside the castle..
- An audio guide details the site’s highlights and history, so you will get all the information about the Predjama Castle’s history;
- The cave beneath the castle is part of the 14km Predjama cave system. It is open to visitors (only in small groups and with a guide) from May to September (closed in winter so as not to disturb its colony of bats during their hibernation);
- Another adventure option is to visit the narrow Erazem’s Passage, through which the besieged knight was connected with the outside world (some climbing skills are required for this, tour needs to be booked 3 days in advance);
- You can buy joint tickets for the Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave. In July and August, a handy shuttle-bus service runs between the cave and the castle; it’s free for visitors who buy a combined ticket for both attractions.
We believe there is no such fantastic structure anywhere else in the world! So put it on your list when visiting Slovenia.
By Marijana Podhraski Photos: Samo Šmarčan