(CNN) — Predjama is likely one of the most extraordinary castles on the earth, constructed within the mouth of a cave advanced on the finish of a valley in southwest Slovenia.
Set midway up a 400-foot (123-meter) vertical cliff face, it seems in information from 1202 and is listed by Guinness World Information because the world’s largest cave castle.
With a Renaissance facade relationship again to the 1580s, the phrase “majestic” doesn’t even start to explain it. But for tour information and historian Vojko Jurca, one of many highlights is, on first appearances, somewhat underwhelming.
“That is it,” he says proudly, indicating an outhouse rest room with a sloping roof and a boarded-up door.
It might look unremarkable, however the story behind it isn’t.
The story focuses on robber baron Erasmus von Lueg, an area Robin Hood hero who fled to the castle within the mid-1480s after killing Depend Pappenheim, Marshal of the imperial Habsburg Courtroom, in a duel whose legitimacy was disputed.
However Erasmus stood agency, aided by a community of secret tunnels burrowed into the rocks that allowed him to herald provisions and accumulate rainwater.
The finish would come, after a 12 months and a day, when Erasmus was betrayed by a servant.
As Jurca tells it, when Erasmus went to the outhouse situated on a third-floor terrace, the servant lit a wood torch as a sign. Moments later, a cannonball got here whistling by the air, killing Erasmus in the course of his final bowel motion.
The outhouse has clearly been rebuilt within the intervening years.
From Slovenia to Westeros
The method of Erasmus’s dying hasn’t escaped the eye of “Sport of Thrones” followers who level on the comparable, undignified finish of Lord Tywin Lannister, who was shot with a crossbow whereas on his toilet throne.
In addition they word that Predjama’s final homeowners, the Windisch-Grätz household, who used the castle as a looking lodge till the tip of World Struggle II, have on their coat of arms a wolf, the seal of the Stark noble home.
Because it occurs, creator George R. R. Martin visited the castle one night in June 2011, after a ebook signing occasion in Trieste.
Legend and historical past are solely a part of the enchantment of Predjama castle. You actually have to go to to understand how human enterprise was so organically sure to nature.
Approaching the castle from any course, it’s nearly fully hidden, solely seen on the final second — whereas sentries across the castle would’ve been capable of spot anybody coming instantly.
As soon as inside, it’s apparent that security slightly than consolation was the largest concern within the Center Ages — the castle is impregnable however the chilly and damp make it nearly unlivable.
These days, getting into the castle entails passing by a drawbridge. The unique entrance was increased up the place two faint doorways might be glimpsed. They had been reached through ladders that would shortly be withdrawn.
Again within the day, guests would first enter the courtroom, the place tough justice was distributed. Few of the ruler’s topics could be allowed additional than this, until they had been unfortunate.
Behind a thick wood door there’s a torture room, which, uniquely, is located in an precise cavernous dungeon. The most popular punishments right here had been the rack, on which prisoners had been stretched, and the horse, a painfully pointed triangular system they had been made to straddle.
One of the crucial nice areas follows. The eating room is insulated by partitions which might be practically 5 and a half ft thick, and warmed by the small however practical kitchen, through which a fissure doubles as a pure extractor hood.
It’s also possible to examine an unique latrine, a protruding seat over the cliff that enables gravity to do its soiled work. Erasmus would have used straw, dried moss and cabbage leaves as a substitute of bathroom paper, or a minimum of he would have earlier than he was blown to smithereens.
A climb up extra stairs to the third ground reveals the gun loops, arrow slits and homicide holes used to pour boiling oil or molten resin on to the besiegers.
That’s the place the open terrace is situated. Right here there’s a view of the entire valley, in addition to probably the most well-known outhouse in Slovenian historical past.
Subsequent to it’s the bed room. It’s the warmest room, because it’s the one one with a hearth. Castle keepers lived right here till the Nineteen Eighties.
Upstairs is an attic that served as a barracks and a lookout. The views down the Lokva Valley are uninterrupted and beautiful.
The barracks have been transformed to an armory museum showcasing medieval weapons like battleaxes, halberds, crossbows and flails.
Apparently, a passage right here leads straight to the torture room. Presumably anybody sleeping on obligation could possibly be unceremoniously dragged down into it.
From right here you can even enter the innards of the cave, exploring till the sunshine from the doorway dwindles to a speck, letting you ponder the environment.
The in depth limestone cave system in southern Slovenia is known as karst, after the Latin title Carsus given to the plateau above Trieste.
Because it was the best-known limestone terrain for hundreds of years, the phrase has turn into generic, describing any limestone terrain with cavities like a Swiss cheese with holes.
Beneath the castle, one massive cave stretches for 8.7 miles, second in size to the close by advanced of Postojna.
There’s no vacationer infrastructure at this huge cavern, however it’s doable to go to throughout summer season months with correct caving gear, lamps and a specialist information. It’s closed in winter as a result of a colony of Schreiber’s long-fingered bats makes use of it to mate and hibernate.
Again within the castle, a one-way system leads again all the way down to the knights’ room, notable for its Gothic niches and a ceiling painted with oxblood.
There are glimpses right here and there of how the construction’s builders made environment friendly use of their rocky state of affairs. One small shaft close to the exit grew to become a kennel for looking canine, whereas a cave mouth beneath the castle served as stables.
Leaving the castle, information Vojko has yet one more cease on his tour — a close-by village the place an ailing linden tree is being propped up within the cemetery of Our Woman of Sorrows.
The church was consecrated round 1450 by the bishop of Trieste, future Pope Pius II.
“Legend has it that this linden tree was planted on prime of Erasmus’ grave,” Vojko says.
The tree was badly broken by hearth in 2001, however it meant a lot to the villagers that tree surgeons had been referred to as in, and its trunk break up and repaired.
It nonetheless proudly survives, like Predjama castle itself.
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