There was once a chap called Erazam. He owned a castle and had a penchant for cherries. Known as a bit of a Slovenian ‘Robin Hood’, this robber baron fled the Viennese Court in 1483 after killing a marshal whilst defending a friend’s honour. It was always about honour in those days wasn’t it.
To escape punishment he hid away in his impregnable cave fortress, which is today named Predjama Castle after it’s infamous owner. The Governor of Trieste laid siege to Predjama, hoping to starve Erazam out of his hidey hole. Yet after a year Erazam still seemed to have an unlimited supply of fresh food. He used secret cave tunnels and delighted in taunting his adversaries by throwing cherries at them.
Alas this tale of knightly bravado doesn’t end well. Rumour has it that a bribed servant and a well placed canon ball sent Erazam to meet his maker as he was sitting on the long drop.
He perhaps shouldn’t have eaten all those cherries.
Predjama Castle is the world’s largest cave castle. Not that there are many to choose from, but it’s still a mightily impressive sight perched defiantly beneath the towering limestone cliffs. Built in the 12th Century, the cave and castle melded to become one. A perfect refuge, if not a cosy home.
The castle is 5 storeys high, and has been rebuilt a couple of times thanks to damage caused during Erazem’s siege, and an earthquake. The present Predjama Castle was constructed in 1570.
It’s a structure like no other, being half cave half castle. Understandably it was rather damp inside, and conditions in ye olde times can’t have been very comfortable.
Throughout our visit we could hear a bell ringing out across the valley. Initially I thought it was a rather romantic sound, befitting of a fortress. Yet after an hour, it really began to grate. Every kid (and nearly every adult when they thought no-one was looking) rang that damn bell. It was once used to ring out a warning. Today it is supposed to bring you good luck.
There’s a helluva lot of superstitious people out there!
The prize for the best view from Predjama Castle has to go to the Armoury. A great place from which to defend the castle, today it is crammed full of replica weapons and armour. It’s a great place for kids to try on helmets and test their skills with a sword!
At the top of the castle lies the entrance to the upper cave. This is where the occupants would hide should the castle be breached. With such a tiny entrance it would be pretty easy to defend.
This is what hides behind that tiny cave opening…
There was plenty of room inside the cave, although it would have been an incredibly spooky and slimy existence for those taking refuge there.
The best view is of course from outside. The long strip of grass leading up towards Predjama Castle is the tournament field, once used by hopeful knights under the watchful gaze of expectant ladies. Each July a medieval tournament and feast is still held here, an unlikely mix of homespun capes, colourful flags, and the odd baseball cap or two.
The karst landscape is riddled with chambers and passageways, perfect for smuggling in supplies for those in the know. During the summer you can explore Ezaram’s secret tunnels beneath the castle on a separate tour.
Just 9km from Predjama Castle is the famous Postojna Cave system. We didn’t have time for both, and a castle will always win in our book, but I have it on good authority that the Postojna caves are some of the most spectacular in the world. Fellow blogger Catalina from Miss Adventures Abroad (who we were with at Big Berry in Bela Krajina) went to check them out. Read her ultimate guide to exploring the caves if you fancy an underground adventure.
Visiting Predjama Castle
- It costs €11,90 for an adult
- If you’re visiting both Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave, buy a combination ticket. This is cheaper and includes a free shuttle between the two.
- There’s a free audio guide
- Along with the Postojna Caves, Predjama Castle is one of Slovenia’s most popular tourist attractions. It goes without saying that it will be busy at peak times of the day, so either put up with it, or come first or last thing.
- Parking near the castle is limited, but there is overflow parking in a field some distance further down the road. It’s quite a steep walk back up to the castle which isn’t great when the sun is beating down.
- There are toilets, cafes and shops outside the entrance.
Behind the Scenes
Poor Hubbie was the pack horse as usual. Just how many cameras does a guy need?