From the Dragons of Postojna Cave to a fairytale of Knights and medieval conquests at Predjama Castle, and all in just one day! Predjama Castle is recognised by Guinness World Records as being the world’s largest Renaissance Castle built within a cave mouth. Located in south-central Slovenia, in the beautiful and historical region of Inner Carniola; Predjama Castle is a magnificent piece of 12th century architecture. Overlooking the beautiful Slovenian countryside, Predjama Castle is one of the country’s largest tourist attractions and comes under the umbrella of Park Postojnska Jama, as does Postojna Cave; another famous Slovenian tourist attraction.
I HEAR THUNDER, HARK DON’T YOU
Predjama Castle (pronounced Pred-ya-ma) is a short 15 minute drive from the world famous Postojna Cave. Earlier in the day the sun was splitting the skies, however, the sun had now almost disappeared and we could hear thunder in the distance. Getting closer and closer by the second, the thunder was also getting louder and louder! As usual we were running late and our arrival at Predjama Castle came with just 10 minutes until last entry. Predjama Castle has been perched in the middle of a 123 metre cliff face for the last 800 years. The natural elements of the cave interweave seamlessly with the man-made structure of the castle. Predjama Castle is an impressive and picturesque site to behold and we couldn’t wait to enter and explore it.
THE LEGEND OF ERAZEM
Predjama Castle’s structure has withstood many an armed siege through the centuries. None more so intriguing than the Legend of a rebellious Knight named Erazem; who withstood an army’s siege for a whole year and one day. The story goes that Erazem killed a relative of the Roman Emperor then fled to the safety of Predjama Castle. The Emporer sent an army to seige the castle but the army failed to access the impenetrable fortress. Believing that there was only one entrance/exit to the castle, the soldiers were informed to stay put and defeat Erazem by starving him out of his castle. Unbeknownst to the enemy, within the confines of Predjama Castle was a secret passage which led to the village. Food and drink was smuggled into the castle via this secret passage. Erazem even had the cheek to mock the enemy soldiers by throwing cherries at them…and massive balls!
And what happened to Erazem we hear you say. Well…legend has it that before Erazem went to the ‘porcelain throne’ to do his ‘business’, a traitorous servant placed a lit candle in the window (maybe he was getting rid of the smell). The candle alerted soldiers of Erazem’s whereabouts and a cannonball was fired in through the window killing him mid-poo. Had the cannonball not killed Erazem, I’m fairly sure it would have scared the sh** out of him..quite literally!
MEDIEVAL MEETS MODERN TECHNOLOGY
Prior to crossing the draw-bridge and entering Predjama Castle, the reception staff handed each of us an audio device to listen to the pre-recorded information pertaining to the castle and it’s history. Enter a room, hit the corresponding button and listen…simple, clever. The audio device itself was much like a mobile phone, very easy to use and the girls loved them. With 15 rooms to explore and with it being so late in the day; we didn’t hang around.
DOWNLOAD THE PREDJAMA CASTLE AUDIO TOUR
DANGLING IN THE DUNGEON
First stop was the Torture Chamber and there, hanging from chains, was a half-naked prisoner. Thankfully the only sound that could be heard was from the droplets of water flowing off the rocks. However, close your eyes and one could easily imagine the screams of the prisoners tortured on the Stretching Rack, impaled on the Judas Chair or eaten alive by brown rats…gruesome. Lily-Belle and Matilda were more than keen to move away from the Torture Chamber…especially when I said ‘did you see his feet move’!
ARSENAL OF WEAPONS
As we wondered freely listening to the audio which accompanied each room; it was obvious that the King’s, Noble’s and Knight’s of Predjama Castle had an affinity with weaponry. The 168cm thick walls tell their own tales and many are adorned with weapons such as crossbow’s, hatchets, long bow’s, axes, pole arm’s and more; each weapon just as deadly (and intriguing) as the next. My particular favourite was the flail…a weapon consisting of a short wooden handle attached to a chain and at the end a metal ball with spikes. A brutal device used to penetrate armour and inflict as much pain as humanly possible during combat. Suits of armour stand proudly, unoccupied; but always ready for the next battle.
READ ALL ABOUT OUR VISIT TO POSTOJNA CAVE
ATTACK AT YOUR PERIL
Climbing higher and higher within Predjama Castle the views from the windows and balcony became panoramic. With dense forests, rocky cliffs and hilly terrain in every direction, it’s easy to imagine how difficult it would have been to sneak up and attempt to lay siege on Predjama Castle. Lily-Belle and Matilda gazed down at the tournament field which was once used by jousting Knights to win the hearts and hands of the fair Maidens of the castle. Each July Predjama Castle hosts one of Europe’s largest Medieval Festivals. Known locally as the Erasmus Knight’s Tournament, the festival attracts ‘Knights’ from all over the world. Fanfare (go on, make the sound)…let the battle commence!
ECHO, ECHO, ECHO
Lily-Belle was first to spot the wooden walkway that paved the way to the cave. Huge, smelly and impressive…not Lily-Belle; the cave! Who can resist shouting ‘HELLO‘ in a cave? Not The Callaghan Posse that’s for sure…H E L L O (echo: hello, ello, llo, lo, o). A pigeon, no doubt startled by 4 lunatics shouting HELLO; dive-bombed toward the light which shone through a large opening above the entrance. Said pigeon scared the living daylights out of Matilda who was now clinging on to Mummy for dear life. BOOM, the thunderstorm was right above us. CRACK, lightening flashed across the sky. The cave was getting darker and darker so we retreated back inside a well-lit Predjama Castle.
WISHING ON A BELL
Each room within Predjama Castle carries with it a history and a story. Each stairwell and room well-trodden, none more so than the steps leading into the Chapel. A small room but bright and airy; perfect for seeking forgiveness or for solitude. Hanging from a window within Predjama Castle there is a large bell. Once used as an alarm to prepare for battle; modern day, the bell is rang by many. According to legend, ringing the bell will fulfill all of your wishes. Dong…of course Lily-Belle and Matilda rang the bell. Knowing Matilda she would have wished for a Unicorn, Lily-Belle’s wish would definitely have been far more reserved, maybe putty or slime! Our medieval conquest had sadly come to an end; and not one drop of blood was shed!
Wanting that ‘instaworthy‘ photo of The Callaghan Posse with Predjama Castle in the background, Daddy photo-bombed a lovely young couple taking a selfie, and then asked them to take our own photo. Jankhur and Julie (from Norway), willingly obliged. The restless grey sky grumbled and groaned above us and the inevitable happened..the heavens opened and I do mean opened!!! It took the four of us less than 30 seconds to get to the car, but it was 30 seconds too late…soaked to the skin! Jankhur and Julie disappeared in the downpour. Car heater on and Lily-Belle and Matilda sat almost in the buff in the back seat. Not really an option for Mummy and Daddy though! The drive back to Marina Julia Camping Village was long, slow and visually impaired with relentless rain. Never in our wildest days have we ever seen rain like it…and we live in Northern Ireland!
WOULD WE GO BACK
Yes! Predjama Castle is steeped in history, tales of legends and grueling battles so next time we will arrange our visit to coincide with the Erasmus Knight’s Tournament and see what life was really like in medieval times. Our intention was to spend time in the local area but the adverse weather had other ideas; simply wasn’t possible. Fantastic tourist attraction and worthy of a visit by ‘wannabe’ Knights and Princesses.
With a very special THANK YOU to:
- Jankhur and Julie – for laughing at my photo-bomb and for taking our #instaworthy photo
LILY-BELLE (age 9) SAYS
Predjama Castle was awesome, I loved it. I liked the weird weapons and the views from the balcony, but I wasn’t too keen on the cave, it was really dark and smelly. The man dangling in the dungeon was a bit scary especially when Daddy said he moved…idiot!
MATILDA (age 3) SAYS
Why did Daddy make me sit on the castle toilet? Daddy, was it really a pigeon in the cave or was it a baby dragon?
Predjama Castle: www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/predjama-castle/
Date of visit: 12th July 2018
Opening: open 365 days of the year, opening times depend on the season
Full Park Experience ticket cost: Adults €41.90 and Children (age 6-15) €25.10 and Children (age 0-5) €4.00
Parking: free, but limited spaces
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