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Predjama: The world’s major cave castle

(CNN) — Predjama is a single of the most extraordinary castles in the planet, crafted in the mouth of a cave intricate at the close of a valley in southwest Slovenia.

Established halfway up a 400-foot (123-meter) vertical cliff encounter, it seems in records from 1202 and is stated by Guinness Planet Data as the world’s most significant cave castle.

With a Renaissance facade relationship again to the 1580s, the term “majestic” does not even commence to describe it. But for tour guide and historian Vojko Jurca, 1 of the highlights is, on 1st appearances, a very little underwhelming.

“This is it,” he states proudly, indicating an outhouse toilet with a sloping roof and a boarded-up doorway.

It may look unremarkable, but the tale at the rear of it just isn’t.

The story focuses on robber baron Erasmus von Lueg, a community Robin Hood hero who fled to the castle in the mid-1480s immediately after killing Rely Pappenheim, Marshal of the imperial Habsburg Court, in a duel whose legitimacy was disputed.

In retaliation, a siege was ordered on Predjama by Habsburg Emperor Frederick III.

But Erasmus stood firm, aided by a network of top secret tunnels burrowed into the rocks that allowed him to deliver in provisions and gather rainwater.

He mocked his opponents by sending them new cherries brought in from the Vipava Valley, 13 miles west, using all those underground passages.

The end would appear, just after a year and a day, when Erasmus was betrayed by a servant.

As Jurca tells it, when Erasmus went to the outhouse positioned on a 3rd-floor terrace, the servant lit a picket torch as a signal. Moments later on, a cannonball came whistling by means of the air, killing Erasmus in the middle of his previous bowel movement.

The outhouse has evidently been rebuilt in the intervening years.

From Slovenia to Westeros


Remaining actions: Erasmus was killed when a cannonball hit the castle’s outhouse.

John Malathronas

The method of Erasmus’s loss of life hasn’t escaped the attention of “Video game of Thrones” admirers who position at the equivalent, undignified conclude of Lord Tywin Lannister, who was shot with a crossbow whilst on his lavatory throne.

They also note that Predjama’s last house owners, the Windisch-Grätz family, who utilised the castle as a looking lodge right up until the finish of World War II, have on their coat of arms a wolf, the seal of the Stark noble residence.

As it comes about, writer George R. R. Martin frequented the castle a single night in June 2011, after a book signing party in Trieste.

“On the way dwelling, we stopped at the most incredible castle, crafted into the mouth of a huge cave. Definitely have to design some castle in Westeros on this just one, it was an eyeful, specifically by evening,” he claims in a weblog write-up.

Legend and heritage are only part of the attractiveness of Predjama castle. You actually have to pay a visit to to comprehend how human organization was so organically certain to mother nature.

Approaching the castle from any way, it can be almost entirely hidden, only visible at the very last instant — while sentries around the castle would’ve been capable to location anybody coming straight away.

As soon as within, it is really obvious that basic safety fairly than ease and comfort was the major worry in the Middle Ages — the castle is impregnable but the cold and moist make it virtually unlivable.

These days, entering the castle will involve passing by way of a drawbridge. The first entrance was bigger up where by two faint doors can be glimpsed. They had been achieved via ladders that could speedily be withdrawn.

Back in the day, site visitors would initially enter the courtroom, where by tough justice was dispensed. Several of the ruler’s subjects would be authorized more than this, except they have been unfortunate.

Guiding a thick picket doorway you can find a torture space, which, uniquely, is located in an precise cavernous dungeon. The favored punishments here have been the rack, on which prisoners had been stretched, and the horse, a painfully pointed triangular device they ended up designed to straddle.

1 of the most nice areas follows. The dining room is insulated by partitions that are almost 5 and a fifty percent ft thick, and warmed by the modest but practical kitchen, in which a fissure doubles as a normal extractor hood.

You can also examine an original latrine, a protruding seat above the cliff that allows gravity to do its filthy function. Erasmus would have used straw, dried moss and cabbage leaves alternatively of rest room paper, or at the very least he would have right before he was blown to smithereens.

‘Murder holes’

The castle's barracks is now an armory museum.

The castle’s barracks is now an armory museum.

John Malathronas

A climb up much more stairs to the third flooring reveals the gun loops, arrow slits and murder holes employed to pour boiling oil or molten resin on to the besiegers.

That is in which the open terrace is situated. Here there is certainly a check out of the complete valley, as nicely as the most famed outhouse in Slovenian historical past.

Upcoming to it is the bedroom. It’s the warmest home, as it is the only a single with a fireplace. Castle keepers lived below until the 1980s.

Upstairs is an attic that served as a barracks and a lookout. The sights down the Lokva Valley are uninterrupted and attractive.

The barracks have been converted to an armory museum showcasing medieval weapons like battleaxes, halberds, crossbows and flails.

Interestingly, a passage below prospects straight to the torture room. Presumably any one sleeping on obligation could be unceremoniously dragged down into it.

From in this article you can also enter the innards of the cave, discovering till the gentle from the entrance dwindles to a speck, permitting you ponder the environment.

The in depth limestone cave procedure in southern Slovenia is termed karst, following the Latin name Carsus presented to the plateau earlier mentioned Trieste.

As it was the very best-known limestone terrain for centuries, the term has develop into generic, describing any limestone terrain with cavities like a Swiss cheese with holes.

Beneath the castle, one big cave stretches for 8.7 miles, 2nd in length to the nearby advanced of Postojna.

There is certainly no vacationer infrastructure at this big cavern, but it is probable to pay a visit to throughout summer months with good caving equipment, lamps and a expert guideline. It’s closed in wintertime mainly because a colony of Schreiber’s prolonged-fingered bats employs it to mate and hibernate.

Memorial tree

The castle's Renaissance facade dates to the 1580s.

The castle’s Renaissance facade dates to the 1580s.

JURE MAKOVEC/AFP via Getty Images

Back again in the castle, a one-way technique potential customers back again down to the knights’ place, noteworthy for its Gothic niches and a ceiling painted with oxblood.

There are glimpses below and there of how the structure’s builders built efficient use of their rocky predicament. A single little shaft in the vicinity of the exit became a kennel for looking canine, even though a cave mouth under the castle served as stables.

Leaving the castle, guide Vojko has a single extra cease on his tour — a nearby village exactly where an ailing linden tree is remaining propped up in the cemetery of Our Girl of Sorrows.

The church was consecrated close to 1450 by the bishop of Trieste, upcoming Pope Pius II.

“Legend has it that this linden tree was planted on best of Erasmus’ grave,” Vojko states.

The tree was terribly ruined by fireplace in 2001, but it meant so much to the villagers that tree surgeons were being identified as in, and its trunk break up and repaired.

It still proudly survives, like Predjama castle alone.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the nationality of Emperor Frederik III.