Predjama Castle sits majestically in the middle of a 123 metre high cliff, deep in the south-western country side of Slovenia. In the valley below, the River Lokva disappears beneath the castle and deep underground.
A winding country road makes its way through the hills to the small village of Predjama and the castle which in one shape or another, has sat within the cliff face since 1202. It also happens to be the largest cave castle in the world (the castle was built in front of and within the cave).
In the 15th century, Predjama Castle was once the home of famous knight Erazem of Predjama (Erazem Lueger), who is the subject of many legends in Slovenia (noble knight, hero, thief, robber baron and more!). It is said that in 1483 Erazem killed Marshall Pappenheim at the royal court of Vienna after he insulted his friend. He then escaped back to Predjama Castle (which he had owned since 1478), allied himself with King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and rebelled against the imperial autocracy under Habsburg Austrian Emperor Frederick III (who was related to Pappenheim) by attacking Habsburg estates and towns within the region.
Predjama Castle was then put under siege by the imperial army. It is only approachable from the valley side and they tried to starve out the occupants of the castle but they didn’t about a secret passage from above where food and supplies could be snuck in. The siege was going to take some time!
The castle was under siege for one year and one day. An amusing but tragic tale of the near impregnable castle is that it was defeated under siege by the call of nature. A traitorous servant was bribed to light a candle in a window to indicate Erazem was on the toilet, which was unfortunately built on the edge if the castle and not within the fortified walls. A well placed cannon ball snuffed out the knight mid motion it seems (this is said to have been made up by his enemies though to slander the knight and the real story is apparently not so colourful, where he was killed within his personal room by a cannon-shot after being betrayed)!
The renaissance castle you see today was mostly built and enlarged by Austrian Baron Philipp von Cobenzl in 1570. Cobenzl obtained the castle in 1567 from the Austrian royal family and his family retained ownership of Predjama Castle until 1810.
The castle went on to be owned by two more families, most famously the Austrian princely Windisch-Graetz family, who used it as a hunting lodge from 1846 to the end of World War Two. After 1945 the castle was claimed by the new communist government and turned into a museum as it remains today.