Postcards from Slovenia #14: Predjama Castle

Predjama Castle, or Predjamski Grad, means literally ‘the castle in front of the cave.’ But it is in fact built into the mouth of a cave, as you will see from the featured image. Today we are visiting a remarkable medieval castle which is sure to appeal to children with wild imaginations dreaming of knights in shining armour and princesses in flowing gowns. It will also appeal to adults with an interest in medieval history and/or speleology. Read on to find out more!

History of the Castle

Tunnel behind Predjama Castle
Erasmus’ secret tunnel

The original Castle was built in the 13th Century AD and extended by the German Knights of the Luegg family. Erasmus of Luegg was Lord of the castle in the 15th century: a robber Baron who upset the ruling Habsburgs by killing the commander of the imperial army, Marshall Pappenheim. He fled to the castle which was then laid siege by the Habsburgs. During the siege, Erasmus kept the castle supplied by means of a secret tunnel which is still visible today. Nevertheless, legend has it that the siege ended when he was betrayed by a servant and killed by a cannonball whilst (ahem) attending a call of nature! If this sounds too preposterous to be true, then it probably is; but I think it’s a great story!

Erasmus’ castle was destroyed in the siege, and a new castle built in its place. This new castle was in turn reduced to rubble by the 1511 earthquake which caused major destructions in Ljubljana and Škofja Loka. The castle we see today is the renaissance rebuilding dating to 1570. This castle stayed in the hands of various Habsburg aristocratic families until the Second World War, when it was confiscated by the Yugoslav communist authorities and turned into a museum, which it remains to this day.

Visiting the Castle

View from the cave behind the castle

Predjama Castle is only 9km from Postojna Cave: you can purchase a joint entrance ticket at a discounted rate. Check the official website for opening times and entry prices.

The entrance fee includes an audioguide which will tell you more about the castle’s fascinating history. Children will love poking around its secret nooks and crannies and seeing the cannons, armour, and medieval living quarters. There is also access to the cave at the back of the castle, though the cave under the castle and Erasmus’ tunnel is visitable only by guided tour. I’ve always wanted to explore the secret passageway which Erasmus used to supply the castle all those centuries ago. If I ever get around to it, I will be sure to send another postcard!

I hope you enjoyed today’s ‘Postcard from Slovenia.’ For more pictures from Predjama Castle, join me on Instagram @experimentsinficition.

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