Predjama: The world’s biggest cave castle

Versie Dortch

(CNN) — Predjama is a single of the most remarkable castles in the world, crafted in the mouth of a cave complicated at the conclusion of a valley in southwest Slovenia.

Set halfway up a 400-foot (123-meter) vertical cliff experience, it seems in data from 1202 and is outlined by Guinness Earth Data as the world’s most significant cave castle.

With a Renaissance facade courting back to the 1580s, the word “majestic” would not even commence to describe it. But for tour guideline and historian Vojko Jurca, just one of the highlights is, on initial appearances, a little underwhelming.

“This is it,” he suggests proudly, indicating an outhouse bathroom with a sloping roof and a boarded-up doorway.

It may glance unremarkable, but the tale driving it is just not.

The story focuses on robber baron Erasmus von Lueg, a nearby Robin Hood hero who fled to the castle in the mid-1480s immediately after killing Count Pappenheim, Marshal of the imperial Habsburg Court docket, in a duel whose legitimacy was disputed.

In retaliation, a siege was ordered on Predjama by Habsburg Emperor Frederick III.

But Erasmus stood business, aided by a community of magic formula tunnels burrowed into the rocks that authorized him to deliver in provisions and collect rainwater.

He mocked his opponents by sending them fresh cherries brought in from the Vipava Valley, 13 miles west, utilizing those underground passages.

The finish would occur, just after a yr and a working day, when Erasmus was betrayed by a servant.

As Jurca tells it, when Erasmus went to the outhouse located on a third-floor terrace, the servant lit a wood torch as a sign. Moments later, a cannonball arrived whistling via the air, killing Erasmus in the middle of his very last bowel motion.

The outhouse has obviously been rebuilt in the intervening many years.

From Slovenia to Westeros


Final actions: Erasmus was killed when a cannonball strike the castle’s outhouse.

John Malathronas

The manner of Erasmus’s loss of life hasn’t escaped the notice of “Video game of Thrones” fans who issue at the identical, undignified end of Lord Tywin Lannister, who was shot with a crossbow although on his toilet throne.

They also take note that Predjama’s past homeowners, the Windisch-Grätz household, who used the castle as a hunting lodge till the stop of Entire world War II, have on their coat of arms a wolf, the seal of the Stark noble residence.

As it transpires, writer George R. R. Martin visited the castle one night in June 2011, soon after a book signing party in Trieste.

“On the way home, we stopped at the most astounding castle, designed into the mouth of a massive cave. Definitely have to product some castle in Westeros on this one particular, it was an eyeful, primarily by night,” he says in a blog article.

Legend and background are only element of the charm of Predjama castle. You seriously have to go to to comprehend how human business was so organically sure to character.

Approaching the castle from any direction, it’s pretty much absolutely concealed, only noticeable at the very last instant — while sentries all around the castle would’ve been in a position to location everyone coming promptly.

Once within, it really is clear that security rather than comfort was the greatest issue in the Center Ages — the castle is impregnable but the cold and damp make it almost unlivable.

Presently, moving into the castle requires passing by means of a drawbridge. The authentic entrance was greater up exactly where two faint doorways can be glimpsed. They were attained via ladders that could immediately be withdrawn.

Back in the working day, guests would initially enter the courtroom, exactly where tough justice was dispensed. Few of the ruler’s subjects would be permitted even further than this, except they were being unlucky.

Powering a thick wood door you can find a torture space, which, uniquely, is positioned in an actual cavernous dungeon. The chosen punishments listed here were the rack, on which prisoners ended up stretched, and the horse, a painfully pointed triangular device they were being designed to straddle.

A person of the most nice areas follows. The dining room is insulated by partitions that are virtually five and a fifty percent ft thick, and warmed by the small but functional kitchen area, in which a fissure doubles as a pure extractor hood.

You can also examine an primary latrine, a protruding seat in excess of the cliff that makes it possible for gravity to do its dirty operate. Erasmus would have utilized straw, dried moss and cabbage leaves as a substitute of bathroom paper, or at minimum he would have before he was blown to smithereens.

‘Murder holes’

The castle's barracks is now an armory museum.

The castle’s barracks is now an armory museum.

John Malathronas

A climb up far more stairs to the third flooring reveals the gun loops, arrow slits and murder holes utilized to pour boiling oil or molten resin on to the besiegers.

That’s where the open terrace is situated. In this article you will find a watch of the whole valley, as effectively as the most well known outhouse in Slovenian history.

Next to it is the bed room. It truly is the warmest room, as it really is the only just one with a hearth. Castle keepers lived listed here right until the 1980s.

Upstairs is an attic that served as a barracks and a lookout. The views down the Lokva Valley are uninterrupted and gorgeous.

The barracks have been converted to an armory museum showcasing medieval weapons like battleaxes, halberds, crossbows and flails.

Apparently, a passage listed here qualified prospects straight to the torture room. Presumably any individual sleeping on obligation could be unceremoniously dragged down into it.

From right here you can also enter the innards of the cave, discovering till the light-weight from the entrance dwindles to a speck, permitting you ponder the environment.

The intensive limestone cave process in southern Slovenia is referred to as karst, soon after the Latin name Carsus provided to the plateau over Trieste.

As it was the ideal-recognized limestone terrain for generations, the phrase has develop into generic, describing any limestone terrain with cavities like a Swiss cheese with holes.

Beneath the castle, one large cave stretches for 8.7 miles, second in length to the close by advanced of Postojna.

There is no tourist infrastructure at this big cavern, but it is possible to take a look at in the course of summer time months with good caving equipment, lamps and a expert guideline. It truly is shut in wintertime simply because a colony of Schreiber’s extended-fingered bats works by using it to mate and hibernate.

Memorial tree

The castle's Renaissance facade dates to the 1580s.

The castle’s Renaissance facade dates to the 1580s.

JURE MAKOVEC/AFP via Getty Photos

Again in the castle, a 1-way method leads back again down to the knights’ room, notable for its Gothic niches and a ceiling painted with oxblood.

There are glimpses right here and there of how the structure’s builders manufactured effective use of their rocky situation. One tiny shaft in the vicinity of the exit turned a kennel for looking dogs, though a cave mouth beneath the castle served as stables.

Leaving the castle, manual Vojko has a single more quit on his tour — a close by village where an ailing linden tree is staying propped up in the cemetery of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The church was consecrated about 1450 by the bishop of Trieste, long term Pope Pius II.

“Legend has it that this linden tree was planted on top rated of Erasmus’ grave,” Vojko states.

The tree was badly weakened by fireplace in 2001, but it intended so considerably to the villagers that tree surgeons ended up identified as in, and its trunk split and fixed.

It still proudly survives, like Predjama castle itself.

Correction: An earlier edition of this story misstated the nationality of Emperor Frederik III.

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