This is Predjama Castle, a gothic dwelling built in the mouth of a cave located in the western Slovenian village that’s given it its name. First mentioned in 1274, it was featured in an episode of Ghost Hunters International and is also the place where an infamous knight was struck down by a cannonball while he sat on his toilet.
The son of the Imperial Governor of Trieste, Erazem (or Erasmus) Lueger was a knight and feared robber baron who owned the castle in the 15th century. He fell out of favor with the House of Habsburg after he killed a Marshall related to Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. He fled to his castle where, according to legend, he was under siege for a year and a day. The castle was considered impregnable, so attackers tried to starve him out.
But Erazem survived thanks to a secret tunnel that connected his castle to a nearby valley where was able to collect supplies. A ‘Bat Cave’ of sorts, Erazem also used it to continue his robberies. An act of treachery finally did him in.
A servant was bribed to signal to attacking soldiers when the elusive knight needed to use to toilet, the one place in the castle that was not impregnable. On an afternoon when Erazem indulged in too many cherries and too much wine, the moment came to catch the knight with his pants down. Some believe he’s been haunting the grounds ever since.
Ruined during the siege, it was rebuilt in the opening years of the 16th century, only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 1511. In 1570 it was rebuilt and took on its present Renaissance look. It exchanged hands between Austrian nobility several times until the end of World War II when it was nationalized by the newly-emerged Yugoslav government and turned into a museum.
The village of Predjama sits nestled in a pleasant hilly landscape about 11km from the city of Postojna and nine from the UNESCO-listed Postojna cave. There is free shuttle bus service between the cave and castle for visitors who purchase a combined ticket. Open year round but with shorter hours in winter. Visiting hours and admission info is here.
I arrived too late in the day, so my visit was limited to the exterior and immediate grounds. I’ll go inside next time to see if I can sneak an obligatory selfie on the toilet.
All images © Bob Ramsak 2014. All rights reserved.
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