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Slovenia: Predjama Castle

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Predjama Castle | Slovenia | Europe

[Visited: August 2013]

On the way to Predjama, I passed the enormous, yet full parking lot of the most famous caves of Slovenia, Postojna. I could not help but think I made the right decision to visit Predjama Castle instead, a little further west. When I walked around a corner, the castle appeared just in front of me - fitting neatly into the enormous half-open cave in which it has been built here for the best protection against invaders. Instead of walking straight to the entrance, I first walked a trail through the grass; the castle was towering high above me, giving me an idea of how attackers had to be overwhelmed and in awe while on their final way to Predjama Castle. A formidable obstacle to take indeed!

Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Reconstructed room in Predjama castle

Closer to the entrance, I saw wall paintings on the outside of Predjama Castle, and once inside, I quickly realized that most of what there is to see, has been reconstructed and made to look like it probably did centuries ago. The permanent exhibition in Predjama Castle gives it the feeling of a museum. Some rooms are bare, while others have been fitted with furniture and puppets dressed up in medieval clothes to give the visitor the idea of stepping back in time. The first construction here was in the 13th century; the castle was destroyed by attackers and an earthquake, until it was rebuilt in 1570 in the Renaissance style we see today. Still, the Gothic and Roman periods of the castle are also still visible. Exploring the castle is walking up and down stairs, into rooms and halls, with viewpoints on the valley side, and a confrontation with reality when you see the backside of the castle built right into the cliffs and cave behind the castle. On the upper floor, there is a bridge and access to the grotto part of the castle.

Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Predjama Castle, built right into the face of a cave

The main strength of the castle, apart from its hard-to-seize location and the ease with which attackers could be expelled by pouring down boiling tar, was the fact that it was linked to the outside world by a cave and tunnel system in the mountain behind it. Thus, its legendary inhabitant Erazem, when besieged for more than a year in the 15th century, was able to defiantly eat fresh cherries in front of his besiegers who just could not figure out how he could get these. They needed a traitor to kill Erazem while he was on the one undefended spot of the castle: a toilet that can still be seen at the viewing platform. His lover planted a linden tree right on top of his grave, which is still there in Predjama village. After taking my time to visit Predjama Castle, and admiring the architects from the valley, I walked to the small Church of Mater Dolorosa where the (damaged) tree can be found - hiding the grave of Erazem. He might be gone, but his castle is still there - stronger than ever.

Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Coat of arms of the Windischgrätz family on display on a wall of Predjama Castle
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Wall painting on Predjama Castle in between windows
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Large room reconstructed as it probably looked in the Middle Ages
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Predjama Castle seen from below
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Looking into the torture chamber of Predjama Castle
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Viewing terrace with entrance to the castle
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Bridge and entrance to the grotto castle
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Grotto castle in the interior of Predjama Castle
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): It is obvious to see how Predjama Castle is integrated into the rocky cliff and cave behind it
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Stairway cut through the cave at Predjama Castle
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Predjama Castle is built right into the rocky cliff and cave and this is obvious in many places
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Historical items can be found everywhere at Predjama Castle, like these jars and casket
Picture of Predjama Castle (Slovenia): Thick wooden door in Predjama Castle

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